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New photography exhibition exploring family history to open at Duff House

By Kyle Ritchie

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Nalini, an exhibition of photographic works by artist Arpita Shah, is set to open at Duff House in Banff.

The display, which commences on Friday, April 12, is presented in partnership with Glasgow-based Street Level Photoworks.

Nalini explores the connected histories of Arpita Shah, her mother and her grandmother, spanning India, East Africa and the UK.

Nalini, an exhibition of photographic works by artist Arpita Shah, is set to open at Duff House.
Nalini, an exhibition of photographic works by artist Arpita Shah, is set to open at Duff House.

The exhibition explores the artist’s past through her maternal lineage and how migration, distance and loss have shaped their lives, featuring discoveries of old forgotten family photographs, and shared and individual memories of objects, places and family stories.

John Mair, monument manager for Duff House at HES, said: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming the works of Arpita Shah.

“The themes of migration and heritage, in both a wider global and individual sense, are close to the heart of HES.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy this fascinating exhibition within the historic setting of Duff House.”

Malcolm Dickson, director at Street Level said: “Nalini is a powerful photographic testament to Arpita Shah’s triangular journey through her maternal family lineage - an imprint, as Shah states, of the imperial routes of migration that tie Scotland, India and Kenya together.

“Executed with great sensitivity and attention to detail, this story feels more strongly amplified in its display by Historic Environment Scotland in the baroque surroundings of Duff House.

“In the context of Scotland’s self-examination of its inextricable links with colonialism, it somehow makes an already profound body of work, more resonant and more enriching because of that.”

Arpita Shah is a photographic artist who spent the earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. Graduating from Napier University in Edinburgh in 2006, she is now based in Eastbourne.

Nalini will be displayed at the Long Gallery at Duff House on selected dates from Friday, April 12 – Sunday, July 14, 2024.

Entry to the exhibition is included in admission to Duff House. For more information and to book tickets, visit the Historic Environment Scotland website.

In addition to the exhibition, on Saturday, May 4 Arpita Shah will be in conversation with Catriona McAra, art historian at the University of Aberdeen.

Hosted in Cowdray Hall, Aberdeen, this intergenerational event seeks to explore the figure of the grandmother through the medium of photography and the inherited object.

The joys and challenges of creative parenthood will also be investigated as a feminist pursuit, as will the post-colonial subject matter of Shah’s practice, challenging the lack of visibility of women of colour as “Muses” in western art history.

The talk is presented in association with Historic Environment Scotland and the University of Aberdeen. It is free and no booking is required.

Visit the Historic Environment Scotland website for further information.

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