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I was born in Britain, whilst both of my parents were born in India. My work is retrospective of experiences of growing up in an affluent country, since my parents had known rural poverty during their childhood in India. I explore the environment they knew as children, and factors which influenced my father’s decision to migrate to unfamiliar, often hostile territory in 1969.
My work is focused on the evolving cultural landscapes of the places I live and visit, whilst observing the influences and effects of migration. I photograph South Asian migrants in the East Midlands, particularly Leicester; A place of refuge for thousands exiled from East Africa in 1972. Refused entry from other countries including India, itself…25,000 came in search of a new life in Britain, leaving their wealth behind. The majority came to Leicester, ignoring a full page newspaper advert advising: “In your own interests and those of your family, you should not come to Leicester.” The resettlement of Ugandan Asians into Britain is often cited as one of the most successful immigration operations. I am particularly keen to understand the first settlers and their mixed feelings of patriotism for the UK and reluctance to “go back” to their birthplaces, after finding sanctuary at long last.
Kajal Nisha Patel