Enjoy an Indian summer at Valentines Mansion

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 18 July 2017

An Indian Summer at Valentines Mansion exhibition

An Indian Summer at Valentines Mansion exhibition

Hardip Sohal

The long standing relationship between the UK and India has prompted a month-long series of events at a historic Ilford venue..

An Indian Summer at Valentines Mansion exhibitionAn Indian Summer at Valentines Mansion exhibition

The long standing relationship between the UK and India has prompted a month-long series of events at a historic Ilford venue.

An Indian Summer at Valentines Mansion offers a variety of fun and creative activities as part of the UK’s India Year of Culture 2017.

The latter has been introduced by the British Council, UK government, and the Indian High Commission in the hope of promoting cultural exchange between the two countries throughout the year.

Three of Valentines Mansion’s previous owners were involved in the East India Company (EIC) during the 18th century – Robert Surman, Sir Charles Raymond, and Donald Cameron.

Now the mansion is holding a variety of events through August to celebrate its unique history and is inviting the community to get involved.

On Sunday, July 30, an exhibition on the links between India and Redbridge will kick off the month-long celebration.

From local East India Company merchants to the different communities who have lived in the borough for more than 50 years, the displays feature objects and local stories from the collections of Redbridge Museum.

This includes a replica of a 17th century chintz dress and a trunk which travelled with a family from India to East Africa and finally to Ilford.

Residents are also being invited to submit their own memorabilia, photographs and souvenirs picked up from visits to India or gifted to them, to be displayed in the Bird Room Cabinets.

“We thought this would be a great way of engaging with the local community,” said Hardip Sohal, branding and marketing director at Valentines Mansion.

She added: “With the Memories of India display, we were keen to get the public involved, to give them a platform to showcase part of their life – be it part of their family history, or a time in their own life spent travelling.

There will also be an opportunity to see work by various artists exploring the relationship between the two countries in different mediums, including fused glass, ceramics, paintings and more to mark the 70th anniversary of India’s independence.

Featured abstract painter, Cinzia Castellano, will share her piece on Khadi fabric which was promoted by Mahatma Gandhi as a commodity and symbol of his movement.

From the moment that residents enter the mansion, they will be greeted by colourful art, said Hardip.

She said: We’ve worked closely with a textile artist from Walthamstow to create some vibrant displays for around the house.

“In reception, visitors can pose for a photo on our Peacock throne, designed and created by artist Sba Shaikh of Mehraj Arts.

“Around the house, visitors will also see displays of traditional Indian costumes, and the bedchamber will be transformed using sarees and fabric drapes by Sba.”

But it won’t only be a visual celebration of India’s heritage at the mansion, there is also the opportunity to enjoy some tasty treats.

On August 9, a special tea party for adults is being held, where attendees can enjoy a fusion of Indian and English treats, washed down with a delicious masala chai.

For youngsters, there is the opportunity to get close to to lots of weird and wonderful creatures native to India, including a peacock, snake and lots of interesting bugs on August 14.

And on August 22, Bollywood fever will be in town as a dance class, led by company D-style, takes over the mansion to teach children the traditional dance moves.

The month-long celebrations will ensure the atmosphere will be colourful, fun and vibrant, said Hardip.

She added: “We always aim to offer the community unique events and activities right on their doorstep, with something for everyone.

“Valentines Mansion is visited and loved by all age groups, so it’s important that our events reflect this.

“This varied selection of activities definitely does just that.”

A full list of events can be found on the Valentines Mansion web site Please note that some events require pre-booking.

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