Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, an 83 year old grandfather and human rights activist, who left the comforts of his life in the USA behind to peacefully campaign in India to free Sikh political prisoners languishing in Indian jails, many who have served years beyond their original terms. On the 16th January 2016 he marked 365 days of his hunger strike, for this humanitarian cause.
During this testing year, Sikhs across the world have been supporting Bapu Surat Singh by holding local protests, signing petitions, social media campaigns, blood drive campaigns and ongoing prayers in their homes and local Gurdwaras as a sign of solidarity and support for the campaign and struggle for Justice in India for religious minorities.
To commemorate the 1 year sacrifice milestone the Sikh Network presented a well-attended and received art exhibition in Smethwick, Birmingham. This exhibition now reaches Bristol on the next part of the tour and brings together the work of established and emerging artists and poets from within and outside the Sikh community who have been creatively inspired by the human rights campaigner. A wide variety of mediums have been used including charcoal/pencil drawings, paintings in oils and watercolours, embroidery and sculpture. From the healthy figure at the start of the hunger strike to the now hollow bony frame the exhibition traces Bapu Surat Singh’s journey for justice.
Stoke Bishop & Sea Mills local election candidate and Sikh Network lead for the event, Dilawer Singh said, “The idea for the exhibition came about as people from around the world began to post poems and art work on social media in support of Bapu Surat Singh’s campaign. Many of the prisoners are eligible for release but still languish in jail. This was another way of creating awareness in addition to signing petitions, social media campaigns, blood donation drives and ongoing prayers in homes and Gurdwaras. A picture is truly worth a thousand words.”
Taran Singh, one of the artists whose work will be exhibited has created a 3D printed sculpture of Bapu Surat Singh said, “This sculpture is a tribute to the warrior spirit of Bapu Surat Singh, who despite his physical condition, remains steadfast and stoic in his fight for justice. While his body may be frail and weak, his spirit is strong and will not be conquered.”
The exhibition will be taking place on Sunday 20th March 2016 (10am until 5pm) at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, St George, Bristol, BS5 8AA. Paramjit Kaur President of the Gurdwara added, “The Bristol Gurdwaras have come together to support this exhibition. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Hot drinks, snacks and langar (free food) will be available. We look forward to welcoming visitors from the community.”
The exhibition has attracted artists from all over the world and includes a small contingent from the South West including Plymouth artists Jill Griffin, Kevin Attwood and Melody Sale. They heard about the plight of Bapu Surat Singh from Plymouth Councillor Chaz Singh. Chaz Singh said, “This is a great opportunity to raise awareness and bring a diverse range of communities together addressing Human Rights and how it binds us all in the quest for justice, equality and fairness.”
Event: Human Rights Art Exhibition #Art4Justice
Location: Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, St George, Bristol, BS5 8AA
Date: Sunday 20th March 2016
Entry: Free – all welcome
The exhibition is held in a Sikh place of worship. In some areas of the building visitors are required to remove their shoes and cover their heads, though this is not required in the exhibition hall.
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