Sunday, 30th April 2017
The Singh Twins, Amrit and Rabindra Kaur at work on one of their famous paintings - they often work jointly on their paintings. Copyright The Singh Twins
SINGH TWINS AMRIT AND RABINDRA KAUR TALK TO DR. ATUL SHAH ABOUT THEIR CREATIVE INSPIRATION
1. Your work exhibits harmony among two very different cultures - Sikh and British. In the process, you demonstrate how it is possible to have a multiple identity and not lose your-self. Very few people find peace in displacement. How can other people achieve this in one lifetime?
We are sure that each case is different but speaking from our own experience we believe that in order to find peace in displacement it is first vital to be proactive in learning about ones own heritage and to develop a strong enough sense of pride in that to then be able to explore and evaluate other cultures with an open mind. In effect, finding the value in all cultures and making informed decisions about which aspects of those experiences are most meaningful and relevant to ones personal beliefs, views and ethics - without feeling pressured to conform to wider opinion or choose one over the other. Having the confidence to take on board the best of different cultures if you want – in the realization that that does not necessarily mean compromising or diluting your own sense of identity.
'All that I am' - Copyright The Singh Twins
2. Employers in Britain are generally very illiterate about different faiths and cultures. In fact, they are very nervous about it. In the process, employees are forced to hide their identity when they go to work. Do you think employers are losing out by this?
Yes we do, because confidence in who you are, as well as a willingness to learn about and from other cultures, enables one to develop the kind of strength of character and positive outlook in life that makes for a good business and working environment. We feel that pride in oneself and an understanding of others helps you to develop qualities that are especially important for teamwork – in which self esteem, mutual respect, assertiveness and being receptive to other view points are vital.
'Entwined' Copyright The Singh Twins, Museum of London Collections
3. Leadership requires vision and commitment. Your art provides unique leadership for cohesiveness through diversity in Britain. How can leaders be persuaded to engage with your art and the powerful messages they convey?
Well there is always access through our web site, through visiting our exhibitions, attending our talks and through printed media – such as our publications. How you would persuade leadership to engage with any or all of these means of viewing and understanding our work is another question all together.
We guess it is first important to stress to leadership that art is not just about aesthetic appeal but about creating an inspirational environment, improving quality of life (displaying art to reflect on in the workplace for example), and expressing concepts and ideals which are of universal interest and have relevance to different areas of life. Perhaps one way would be to incorporate sessions on art understanding and interpretation (not just our own art but a wide variety of arts) into leadership training courses. This might even include field trips to galleries and museums where a painting or series of paintings become a starting point for group discussion on subjects such as social integration, work ethics and good citizenship. One might also think about inviting artists from different cultural backgrounds to talk to leadership about how they feel their art offers lessons for good practice in business and/or the workplace. Involving employers and employees in group practical sessions creating art (which demonstrate the value of collective input for mutual benefit) can also assist with developing positive relations between the work force and management and promoting the ideal of team work.
'Indian Summer' Copyright The Singh Twins
4. We live in a bordered world with bordered minds. How can art help to create a borderless mind?
We believe that art is a universal language that transcends culture and time, with an ability to speak to different people on different levels – offering a uniquely accessible way of communicating about and understanding the world we live in from multi perspective viewpoints. As such it is the perfect vehicle for helping to create borderless minds and intercultural harmony by cultivating understanding of diverse cultures and communities. To create a borderless mind one has to create an attitude of mutual respect and sense of relationship with what or who we perceive to be different or the ‘other’. We believe a positive way forward in that respect would be to study and learn from the history of art – looking at its content and developing aesthetics globally. Because art is a product of centuries of cross cultural influence, shared histories, experience and rich visual language that demonstrate just how false our ‘man made’ barriers of nationality, culture and religion are.
'The Pool of Life' - Commissioned by Liverpool City Council. Copyright The Singh Twins
5. Can you visualise a workplace which is truly diverse in leadership and culture, and yet harmonious at the same time. What would it look like?
Yes - It would be an environment built on mutual respect, consisting of a good mix of people from different backgrounds and age groups. Where dress code (if there is one) is flexible in terms of being sensitive and respectful to the visual identity of different cultural and faith traditions and where people are afforded equal opportunity and freedom to contribute their talent and ideas regardless of their heritage.
The Singh Twins can be contacted directly through their website
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