Nottingham Mela Festival 2020 - Online

New Art Exchange, Gregory Boulevard, NOTTINGHAM, Nottinghamshire, NG7 6BE
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Nottingham Mela Festival 2020 - Online


Nottingham Arts Mela
Events from Monday 27 July to Sunday 23 August 2020

Nottingham Arts Mela goes online in 2020 This years mela festival, UK’s oldest is back but this time in the digital realm.
From 27 July to 23 August the festival will present a daily creative provocation, featuring on new festival digital platforms.

There will be a full back to back weekend launching Friday 21 August delivering through to Sunday 23 August.

Online cooking, films featuring South Asian diaspora world wide, music, dance, debates, poetry and spoken word, family art workshops,
murals, archives activated, morning raags and yoga… a full flavour of culture responding to these unprecedented times. The premise
this year is Climate, Changed… where Mela seeks a new braver truth to save our planet, its life and nature.

The artists will be announced on a weekly basis over the four week period.

The Mela in Nottingham is the oldest South Asian Mela in The UK/Europe. Since 1988 it has always been presented outdoors across
Nottingham sites, recently at the Arboretum, Castle, New Art Exchange and Hockley district. The Mela provides multiple representations
of art and culture from South Asian diaspora artists and communities. Each year it reinvents based on a curatorial premise.



Mela - Final week

Midday Message: Ashna Khan
Timeless Tale
Ashna shares a stylistic celebration of mood, time, space and accent of the Mela theme,  narrating stories within a frame, creating the atmosphere of a timeless tale.

Caste, Politics and Food: Rajyashri Goody
Session 1
After a quick introduction of her artistic practice, Rajyashri Goody delves into the relationship between food and caste in India, referring to historical events and rules as well as incidents taking place today. She looks at the role cookbooks play in our lives and whether these can be adapted for different societies/social hierarchies. If not, then why? This session ends with Rajyashri’s readings of 4-6 poems/recipes that she has adapted from Dalit literature.

Mela 30 Years On: Jenny Moran with Hansa Dabee

Jenny will finish off this series in conversation with BBC Radio Nottingham presenter, Hansa Dabee. Hansa was a child when she first attended the Mela in Nottingham. She talks about then and now, as well as Mela people she has met through her work for the radio station in recent years.

UNESCO City of Literature: Rupinder Kaur

A series of four poems – two in English, two in Punjabi – which consider and explore language, freedom, dreams, reality and desire through the topical lens of the coronavirus pandemic. By Rupinder Kaur.

Podcast Provocations: Tasawar Bashir

Houseboat Press - This series of podcasts sees Tasawar Bashir seek the stories, characters and languages of residents of Sparkhill, Birmingham, in an attempt to capture the diverse, complex Kashmiri diaspora community.

Podcast Provocations: Ihitashri Shandilya

A day in the life of an Indian cultural entrepreneur in times of COVID-19. An insight into the lives of Indian cultural entrepreneur, Ihitashri Shandilya, and the wider community of artisans, tailors, weavers, dyers, artists at MITHILAsmita, during the coronavirus global pandemic.

Podcast Provocations: Nadia Whittome MP

A Radical New – part 2 - Nadia Whittome will be in conversation with Skinder Hundal, Director of New Art Exchange, to explore some of the key and critical challenges and opportunities facing society. As a radical woman of colour the conversation will deconstruct contexts and realities for a progressive and inclusive futurism. We face complex disparities in these unprecedented times to shape new ways of being, so join us and let’s explore the role of politics, art and culture in making radical change.

Film Night IV: Sites of Kinship
8pm and  

Priya Sen: Yeh Freedom – Delhi, India
Filmed in Delhi’s Ambedkar Nagar, Yeh Freedom Life (This Freedom Life) tries to keep up with its protagonists, as they maneuver erratic and unpredictable love. One of them works at a local beauty parlour, the other runs the family’s small cigarette counter at a crowded intersection. They are surrounded by a cacophonous city; they are both in love with other women. The film accompanies them through their desire to live their ‘freedom lives’, outside society and family’s constant scrutiny and sanction. But this ‘freedom life’ also leaves them vulnerable to the uncertainties of love, when it refuses such constraints.

Prantik Basu: Rang Mahal – West Bengal, India
Until recent years, the Santhali tribe of India did not have their own written language. Their stories and myths were preserved and passed on verbally through the generations. Each narration has a different form, much like the rocks of a nearby hill that come in various hues.

Maharshi Tuhin Kashyap: Poetry of Whispers – Assam, India
Biswa is frustrated with his monotonous and melancholic life in a hostel in a big city, when he gets a call from his girlfriend Mukuta who has gone home, to an interior village in Assam. This film playfully articulates the dissonance between the realities and connections between rural and urban lives in the region.

Moinak Guho: An Irrelevant Dialogue – Kolkata, India
An octogenarian couple, Shankar and Ila Bagchi, live a life of isolation confined within one room of a big, empty and time-worn house in the city. Childless by choice and unwilling to become a burden on their kin, they are in constant tussle with panic and fear. The thought of a deteriorated future – a life succumbed to bed-bounding sickness or alone without their sole companion, makes their existing loneliness only deeper. After having offered all that they could to the society including pledging their organs, they are convinced of the purposelessness of their present. Plagued by uncertainty of tomorrow and the weary mundanity of today, they resort to writing to the President of India. They plead guilty of a crime they believe to have committed – of living beyond seventy-five years, and request mercy. While awaiting the consequences of this extreme position towards their right to die with dignity, they seek desperate measures to fulfil their desire that challenges the status quo. Inspired from a true story, the film tries to explore the life of this couple through contemplative aesthetics, carefully stripping it of any superfluous movement, both visual and dramaturgical. The observational portrayal tries to capture the infinite stasis of these two lives in its essential perceived form. However, the normative social structures of our everyday life render these characters insignificant and their extremist take against the conditioned value surrounding life as irrational and inconsequential. An irrelevant dialogue.

A Spiritual Blessing: Keertan Kaur

Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo
Vocalist Keertan Kaur to bless opens Festival Weekend launch evening.

Burnt in Blue: Kali Chandrasegaram

Burnt in Blue: The Dancing Cry of the Soul - Within the confines of the four walls of his bedroom, Kali Chandrasegaram reminisces upon the sense of touch shared with another being when he was free.

Sufi Soundscape: Deepa Rasiya, John Ball and Ford Collier

Join Deepa, John and Ford as they take us on this spiritual musical journey which pays tribute to the Sufi Masters. Join them an immerse yourself in the poetic sounds of Sufi for this years Festival weekend launch.

Saturday 22 August

Everyday Yoga: Kajal Nisha Patel

Over the past three weeks, Kajal has provided an introduction to the eightfold path to yoga. This in the last of the series takes you again through a different sequence of physical postures. In addition, you will be invited to extend your learning off the mat, by incorporating aspects of the Yamas and Niyamas into your week, through short exercises which will help you to become more mindful in your daily life. Kajal will also speak with Sooree Pillay on Sunday 23rd August, for an in-conversation which explores the philosophy which underpins her practice.

Create and Learn: Natalia Bruce

Them: Creative Writing Workshop with Nottingham Playhouse (ages 8-11)
Nottingham-based Writer and Theatre Practitioner Natalia Bruce Invites you to spend an afternoon exploring our world and perspective through creative writing. “THEM” offers young people the opportunity to share their ideas, opinions and thoughts on the world and their place in it. This workshop is designed to assist our young creatives in developing the right skills to express themselves and to guide them in writing their very own piece of creative writing.

Draw with Gagan

Join Gagan for a drawing workshop. Bring along a sketchbook and anything at all to draw with. It will be a live Zoom session. Limited spaces, pre-booking is essential.

UNESCO City of Literature: Jasbinder Bilan

Tamarind And The Star Of Ishta - Join Costa award-winning author Jasbinder Bilan, as she shares her latest magical realist children’s, book Tamarind And The Star Of Ishta with you. Find out about her family roots, what inspired her latest Himalayan adventure and be one of the first to hear her read an extract from her latest children’s book.

Create and Learn: Natalia Bruce

Them: Creative writing Workshop with Nottingham Playhouse (ages 12-16)

Nottingham-based Writer and Theatre Practitioner Natalia Bruce Invites you to spend an afternoon exploring our world and perspective through creative writing. “THEM” offers young people the opportunity to share their ideas, opinions and thoughts on the world and their place in it. This workshop is designed to assist our young creatives in developing the right skills to express themselves and to guide them in writing their very own piece of creative writing.

Online Kitchen: Desi Bhakra

Red Cow feature their head chef Chabi who will make a Desi Bakra goat meat dish served regularly in the pub. Experience behind the scenes action as Chabi unlocks a special recipe! Have your cool beer ready to soften the mirch and masala!

When Worlds Meet: Jasmine Rodgers, Keertan Kaur and Saran

Jasmine has been collaborating with artists Keertan and Saran to sonically explore diverse musical landscapes. This experimental journey sees each artist draw from their own music practice and life experience to find new exciting soundscapes.

Shades of Brown: Rani Moorthy

An excerpt from Shades of Brown (Rasa Productions Ltd), a one-woman show with Rani Moorthy that examines the politics of skin colour. Part performance and part film from a live performance, the except will follow an Indian bride as she makes one last attempt to get ‘fair and lovely’ on the eve of her wedding and she is interrupted by a very special night visit.

Organised Chaos: Wahab Shah

Organised Chaos Part 2: Sain Zahoor Allah hoo

This performance is the second in a series presented by dancer and choreographer Wahab Shah. Based around climate change and shot on the streets of Pakistan, he explores the existence and influence of the Rub, Faqeer and Tamasha in the present world.

What Remains is Memory: Party Office

The bringing down of the monument is a recognition that dominant narratives are asserted into societies through such state symbols. While what remains in public memory is critiqued, it is only when there is agency, time and space made for Queer bodies to illustrate what we recognise as important in our silenced histories can Archives presenting possible empathetic and plural futures be created.

Party Office invites artists Aryakrishnan, Ali Asgar Tara, Lasya Kahli, Taksh and After Party Collective to participate in the making of such Queer Archives through performances. Party Office is an art and social space in New Delhi hosted by Fadescha.


Welcome back, Soothsayers to Nottingham Arts Mela this year. Join them as they present a music set with their own unique nu afro beat and dub sound, as well as a bit of humorous banter in-between. Grab your evening refreshments and join them for this lively intimate set.

Everyday Yoga: Kajal Nisha Patel in Coversation

To close her four week programme of yoga sessions, Kajal speaks with Sooree Pillay about her journey to yoga as artist and practitioner and the philosophies which underpin her work.  The conversation explores our relationships to societal structures, perceptions of self, and notions of holistic well-being. Followed by Q&A session.

Create and Learn: Bhangra Tots

Bhangra on the Beach! Suitable for families and all ages!

Join Performing Artist and Bhangra dancer Sohan Kailey as he takes you on a fun-filled, high energy interactive Bhangra on the Beach Family Fun Show. In this new show created for Nottingham Arts Mela, Climate Changed.

Sohan brings the beach theme direct to your homes. Put on your swimming gear and make a splash..... dance along to Sohan’s songs... Bhangra Rave and Let's Naach plus lot's more.

This is an interactive show and audience participatory is a must, Grown-Ups please get the children involved. Turn up the music and let's celebrate with vibrant music and dynamic Bhangra dance moves.

Having performed his Bhangra Tots Show at Nottingham Arts Mela on previous occasions... he brings you the same energy, the same excitement in an action packed virtual performance. So get ready to turn up the volume and Let's Dance and celebrate!

UNESCO City of Literature: Sandeep Parmar

Archive for a Daughter - Based on her family's migration from India to England, and set on the street in Derby where her mother grew up, Sandeep Parmar explores the trauma of exile and the silences of intergenerational remembering.

Caste, Politics and Food: Rajyashri Goody

Session 2 - In her second session, Rajyashri Goody explores various food and caste histories from different parts of India. Along with giving a bit of historical context, she will compile 12-15 recipes/poems specifically for this event, adapted from different Dalit writers, and she will read and speak about the context and history of each ‘recipe’.

Aakash Odedra Studio Series: Subhash Viman Gorania

Reflections, Part 1: Abandon
A journey of life through death, from physical to spiritual. Death the great metamorphosis, a continuous transgressional search of contradictions as body and soul pull away, to reunite, to begin new. Identity, origin and destination become a quest to free oneself. With Subhash Viman Gorania.

Aakash Odedra Studio Series: Kesha Raithatha

Reflections Part 2: Gather

Mythological beings are symbolic of the joining of two worlds representing the union of spiritual and physical, mortal and immortal. Nature becomes a karmic playground of equation and balance. Nature nurtures, nourishes and tests all within its creation. With Kesha Raithatha.


Khiyo return to this year’s Nottingham Arts Mela as a duo. Join Sohini and Oliver for a set including acoustic versions of Bengali classics as well as new Khiyo originals.

Jangal: Soumik Datta

Soumik Datta shares Jangal, his personal response to our world’s imminent social and ecological crisis, which blends ancient and digital aesthetics in a vibrant tangle of musical influences and styles.


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