People from the Coleraine area are being invited to search their memories for stories which link the area to India as part of an important new history archiving project.
The ‘Sanskriti – Exploring Shared Space’ project from leading ethnic arts organization, ArtsEkta, is designed to capture information and celebrate the connections which have been forged over the last eighty years between India and Northern Ireland - and the Coleraine connection is not so far-fetched as it may initially sound, as Rachel Radcliffe, ArtsEkta Project Manager, explains.
“Since the early 1920’s the Indian community has played an important role here, both economically and socially, opening up businesses and textile factories and establishing links between communities in Northern Ireland and India.
“Local people may well remember some of the individuals who were amongst those early arrivals from the Indian Sub Continent and we are hoping that we will hear family stories of the friendships and working relationships that have been forged over the decades.
“We want to hear from anyone who has a story to tell, from whatever perspective.
“Perhaps there are people in the Coleraine area who remember the Indian door-to-door salesmen who first made an appearance here in the 1920s -1940s, perhaps they recall the first Indian families who came to live and study or work here, some local people may even have travelled to India themselves for work or for pleasure.
“Perhaps they are themselves members of the Indian community and can bring us their experiences of what it was like to move halfway across the world and set up home and business here in Coleraine. The stories may be first hand recollections, or tales which have been passed down through the generations: our ambition is to capture all those Indian memories before they are lost to time.”
Everyone’s perspective will be important and valuable as ArtsEkta pieces together an oral history of the links between the two countries, supplemented with old photos and, hopefully, memorabilia.
Nisha Tandon, Executive Director, ArtsEkta said: “The three year Sanskriti Exploring India’s Heritage project is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with the first year concentrating on migration and trade with the main focus on the historic trade links between Northern Ireland’s linen industry and South Asia.
“At the end of each year the oral history interviews will be submitted to the National Museums of Northern Ireland and ArtsEkta will work alongside museum and heritage organisations to create community research projects, a travelling exhibition, publications and an oral history archive.”
If you feel you would like to discuss or contribute to this unique project you can contact Rachel Radcliffe on 028 90 231 381 or email: Rachel@artsekta.org.uk . To find out more about the Sanskriti Exploring Indian’s Heritage visit www.artsekta.org.uk