Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now

Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now

17 Feb 2024 - 02 Jun 2024

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-5pm and bank holidays (open from 12pm on 17 February due to our 'In Conversation with Hammad Nasar and Sathnam Sanghera' event)

This major touring exhibition explores how the traditions of South Asian miniature paintings have been reclaimed and reinvented by modern and contemporary artists.

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Free admission. No need to book.

Beyond the Page includes a fantastic selection of historic works featuring battle scenes, love affairs, spiritual parables and exquisite depictions of the natural world drawn from major collections. Many are rarely displayed due to their fragility. They are shown alongside modern and contemporary works by artists from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, the Netherlands, UK and USA.

South Asian miniature painting is defined by its intricate craftsmanship, intimate scale and intense narrative. Beyond the Page focuses on Britain’s role in its development since the 1600s and explores how, from the 1900s onwards, artists have taken it beyond the pages of illuminated manuscripts to experimental forms that include installations, sculpture and film.

It’s believed there are around 100,000 South Asian miniatures held in museum, gallery and library collections across the UK, yet they are rarely seen. This exhibition is also a chance to explore what and why we collect – as well as shine a light on some beautiful works from Plymouth’s permanent collection. A new display case featuring a small selection of beautiful Mughal miniature paintings from our historically important Cottonian Collection will be on show in our 100 Journeys gallery and Cottonian Research Room at the same time as Beyond the Page.

The curators of 'Beyond the Page' have done a brilliant job in creating an exhibition that reflects the complex histories that underpin the development of miniature painting. The result is a show that combines an in-depth exploration of an under-appreciated artform with contemporary relevance.

Simon Stephens, Museums Association

Ali Kazim, Untitled (Children of Faith series), 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary

Find out more

EMPIRE LINES podcast with curator Hammad Nasar (22 minutes)
The Art Newspaper: Never-before-seen South Asian miniature paintings to go on view
Museums Association: Dig deep for your audiences and you might just strike gold
The Guardian: Artists are attracted to their initimacy
Financial Times: Everyone's going big for Indian miniatures
The Guardian: Beautiful miniatures deserve giant audiences
Asian Art Newspaper: South Asian Manuscripts
Small and Mighty: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now
Miniature Paintings from South Asia

Beyond the Page is curated by Hammad Nasar and Anthony Spira with advice from Emily Hannam, and is accompanied by a new catalogue.

The exhibition is supported by The Bagri Foundation, Paul Mellon Centre, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. The exhibition has been made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. The Box would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.

Please note: this exhibition contains some artwork of a sexual nature.

Matthew Krishanu, Church, Tree and Field, 2020 (detail). Courtesy of a Private Collection.
Ali Kazim, Untitled (Children of Faith series), 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary.