Jason Tilley Exhibition Review

Jason Scott Tilley’ touching series on ‘People of India’ is an exhibition made up of three distinctive bodies of work; ‘The beautiful People’, ‘The people of India publication’ and ‘The photographic archive of Bert Scott’. (Bert Scott being his beloved grandfather) The three bodies of work, work in conjunction with one another to allow the viewer to compare the significant moments in Indian history over the last 150 years. The whole body of work took Tilley an astounding 11 years to produce between a couple of visits to India.

The three collections aim to provide the viewer with a rich sense Indian history, offering an insight into the contrast between the Anglo-Indian citizens and the natives. This is clear after having a one to one tour with Tilley who spoke in detail about his work. I feel this talk gave us an advantage over other views who would have seen the exhibition too as it was very personal. We could feel how much this work meant to him and his family. I felt that the exhibition room lacked structure, without Tilley there to guide us around the room we wouldn’t have known where to start as it was a big room so lots to take in. Although I seem to remember him saying that you can view his work from any point.  There was obviously a clear division in sections of the work, although without the guidance of Tilley it wouldn’t have been as clear and self-explanatory.

Please see clips of Tilley giving us a talk about his work here:

We asked Tilley whom his project and exhibition is targeted at and suited to. His reply was, “When I filled out the forms, I thought it would be of interest to anybody of British and Indian culture. It wasn’t meant for children. It was meant to be educational and for people over a certain age. But anybody really.” This is clearly executed by his way of presentation and truthful images of Indian culture, which some people may find disturbing, hence why this exhibition is not for children.

Tilley’s response to a few of our questions:

I personally feel that the images made by Tilley are strong in technique, the use of film and monochrome effect give the more contemporary images a timeless appearance, however we are critical of the way the three collections were displayed, giving it a lack of direction which almost takes from the amazing stories he is trying to put forward and the long journey he went through to get this body of work. This left us slightly confused, questioning the purpose of the three bodies together as a collection. You could question if he needed to include the oldest body of work? Maybe so, but only to give context which could have been done in another way?

A touching exhibition once all context is known, well worth visiting.