'Lesmahagow Durbar' by The Singh Twins

This audio clip describes Lesmahagow Durbar by The Singh Twins.

It has been created for use as part of our primary school resource, The Superpower of Looking, in order to support pupils with blindness or visual impairment to take part in the lessons.

Explore the painting further in our resource, A Scottish Sikh hosts a special gathering.

Full audio description text

This highly detailed scene, bursting with colour and pattern, was painted in 2000 on mountboard in poster paint, gouache paint and gold dust in Indian miniature style. It measures 32.5 cm tall and 25.5 cm wide. It has a blue border delicately decorated with blue flowers and white flowers linked by gold foliage. On the outer edge of this border is a thin red line, with two thin gold lines on the inner edge. It frames a room crammed with 18 people sitting on European-style wooden chairs and comfy sofas although the room itself could be in a Maharaja's palace with white walls that might be marble and plaster with a leaf decoration where the walls meet the ceiling.

Pictures on the walls show a woman in a Western-style wedding gown and a colourful painting of a Sikh warrior. They hang either side of a mirror which reflects our side of the main room, without capturing any of the people in it. It shows a low table in a bay window looking out onto a garden: a lawn edged with planting and a classical stone structure, perhaps a temple, beyond. A narrow strip of this garden cuts across the lower edge of the painting, with plants and a watering can. A man with light brown skin, collar-length grey hair and a beard wearing a pale-blue Western-style shirt over darker blue trousers, light blue socks and sandals is holding a garden fork. He points to an older gentleman with a white turban and beard, wearing a brown tweed jacket and grey trousers, in the direction of a signpost marked 'to the planting ceremony'.

A yellow border separates this garden from the main room which has a highly patterned Islamic carpet. On it a girl wearing a tartan kilt, long white socks, a short-sleeved cream blouse and a blue sash across one shoulder is mid-dance, her feet laced into highland dance shoes. She has light brown skin and stands side-on to us, one hand raised. Her fingers curl towards her in the manner of an Indian dancer.

Her audience is multicultural judging by their skin colour and clothing. Sitting on an ornate gilt chair facing the dancer is a woman who wears a lilac sari and holds a cup of tea on a saucer. Behind her sits a man with a full, white beard and a crimson turban. He wears a black velvet jacket over a white shirt and has a microphone in his hand. Across from the grandmother, sharing a comfy chair on the other side of the room are two women in their 30s. Identical in appearance, they wear long red dresses, patterned in gold. One holds a camera and the other a paintbrush.

The painting is by The Singh Twins. Possibly this is a gathering of their friends and family.

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