The garden is a place of peace, tranquillity and safety. A park in Bradford hosted a new Indian garden, painted directly on to the paving by the acclaimed Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi. But this garden within a garden did not provide refuge from conflict, or a haven from the outside world. Instead, inspired by the history of the million-strong British Indian army that fought in the First World War, Qureshi transformed a public space into zones in which light and dark mix, horror and hope collide.
Qureshi lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan, a region that as part of the British Raj enlisted a huge number of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu soldiers to fight on the Western Front. Their experiences of being at war in a distant land and in a hostile climate informed the work that this leading international artist presented at the Mughal Water Gardens in Lister Park, next to Cartwright Hall Art Gallery and in City Park, Bradford City Centre.
Qureshi – who uses a delicate style inspired by the history of Pakistani and Indian miniature painting to reflect upon contemporary conflicts and divisions – illuminates the complex interplay between Islamic and European history and culture. These vibrant works remind us that war creates division, but can also bring people together.
Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, Bradford Museums and Galleries, City of Bradford MD Council and Yorkshire Festival