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Maharaja Talks: Photographer Deen Dayal

February 6th, 2011

Photographing the Maharajas
Guest Speaker: Dr. Deepali Dewan
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
7 – 8:30 pm

For the third in our series of Maharaja talks, art historian Deepali Dewan explores the photography of Deen Dayal (1844-1905). In a field dominated by Europeans, Deen Dayal stands out for his accomplishments in the early period of photography in India. Originally trained as an engineer, Dayal toured India to photograph archaeological sites and monuments, palaces and forts, places of worship and local landscapes. Deen Dayal worked for many of the most powerful of princely rulers at the end of the nineteenth century, including the Maharajas of Dhar and Gwalior and the Nizam of Hyderabad. Dayal and his staff photographers produced more than 40,000 images in his lifetime. His practice makes an important contribution to our understanding of photographic history.

Colouring on Maharaja Family Sunday

February 3rd, 2011

On Sunday I was feeling a little lethargic and suggested to my 8-year-old that we just hang out at home.

“But we’re going to the AGO; it’s Family Day,” she said. And out came the tears. Well, technically it was Maharaja Family Sunday, but I wasn’t going to argue.

So we went.

She joined in the Kathak dance demonstration in Walker Court and waved to us when the gaggle of kids walked around in their ‘royal procession’.

We took a quick turn through the Maharaja exhibition, noticing paintings we hadn’t before.

She designed and coloured an elephant while my husband and I took turns looking at the Frum Collection of African Art for the first time.

Eventually, we checked in on the line full of little children waiting patiently to have mehndi put on their hands in ShopAGO. Sure, there was a lot we didn’t see on this visit. But the kid danced, coloured, saw art and left without a single whine. Success!

Piali Roy is a Toronto freelance writer with a long-held interest in South Asian culture and history. You can contact her at

The Durbar of 1877: A Collision of Classes and Cultures (Audio)

February 3rd, 2011

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Recorded: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 @ Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 1:13:36

A professor at York University, Dr. Douglas Peers specializes in British-Maharaja relations.  He will discuss the Durbar of 1877, also known as the Proclamation Durbar, which was held to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria and to proclaim her as Empress of India.

The 1877 Durbar was and is for many the quintessential statement of imperial pomp and circumstance: a painstakingly choreographed and lavishly decorated celebration of Queen Victoria’s assumption of the title of Empress of India. Indian princes mingled with Britain’s colonial elite in a spectacle intended to impress upon the princes their carefully ordered places within the imperial pantheon while reassuring British participants of their exalted status within the empire. At least that was the intent. In practice, however, the Durbar proved to be much more contentious. Not only did many of the planned events and selected symbols have unintended consequences, but the Durbar was staged during one of the most crippling famines in nineteenth-century India. The juxtaposition of mass starvation across much of central India against the ostentatious splendours of the Durbar exposed a fundamental paradox at the heart of British imperialism, namely the extent to which an ostensibly liberal empire not only employed decidedly illiberal techniques to ensure its authority but also tried to frame social and cultural relationships in ways that were often antithetical to the rhetoric of reform that was so important to defenders of Pax Britannica.

Indian Popular Culture and Courtly Life: Stephen Inglis (Audio)

February 3rd, 2011

Photo of Dr. Stephen Inglis

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Recorded: Saturday, January 12, 2011 @ Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 1:13:36

Dr. Stephen Inglis, adjunct curator of the Maharaja exhibition and curator emeritus at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, discusses the ways in which Indian popular culture and tourism have drawn on the culture of the kingdoms.

About Dr. Stephen Inglis

As an anthropologist, curator and lecturer, Dr. Inglis has specialized in South Asian artists and their communities and in Canadian folk art and craft traditions. As Chief of the Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies in the early 1990s, he built the CMC’s outstanding national fine craft collection. From 1998 until 2007, he was Director-General, Research and Collections.  Since 1974, Dr. Inglis has been associated with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, which promotes academic and cultural exchange between India and Canada. Dr. Inglis holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. in Museology and Indian Art from Calcutta University in India, where he studied Indian art and architecture, folk arts and crafts, and ethnography of tribal societies.  He also received a Certificate in Tamil Language and South Indian Culture from Madurai-Kamaraj University in Madurai, India.

What to Expect on Maharaja Family Sunday

January 28th, 2011

Family Sunday
January 30: Maharaja
12 – 4 pm
FREE with Admission

Come to a special Maharaja FAMILY SUNDAY as we celebrate the Year of India and the Winterlicious Festival! Join us for interactive dance, music, and art activities inspired by the exhibition Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts.

• Enjoy a performance of dance and music by the Toronto Tabla Ensemble
• Take to the dance floor and learn the dance moves!
• Make your own costumery and embellishments
• Watch and participate in a demonstration of Rangoli Floor Art with artist Asha Aditi using spices, grains, mirrors, bottle caps, and more…
• Join in the glittering procession in Walker Court for a grand finale to the afternoon!

About AGO Family Sundays – Last Sunday of Every Month

The much-beloved Family Sundays return!

12 – 4 pm on October 31, November 28, January 30, February 27, March 27, April 24 and our final Sunday on May 29, 2011

AGO Family Sundays are FREE with admission. We’re putting a Gallery-full of FUN into Sundays!

For more information call 416.979.6608

The King’s Salon with inDANCE

January 26th, 2011

Internationally acclaimed for its brilliant, thought-provoking, and entertaining presentations, Toronto-based inDANCE heralds in The King’s Salon, a spectacular performance featuring several dancers, live musicians, and lush costumes, with high energy dancing and innovative choreography. Choreographed for the AGO as part of the Maharaja exhibition, The King’s Salon is a celebration of the aesthetics of courtly love that are at the heart of dance in royal South India in the 18th century.

inDANCE is a Toronto-based South Asian dance company established in 1999 as a vehicle to encompass a range of artistic output: choreography, performance, touring, and teaching. The primary mandate of inDANCE is to form creative partnerships with Canadian and international collaborators, including choreographers, dancers, musicians, designers, scholars and presenters.

The King’s Salon with inDANCE
Saturday, January 29, 1:30 – 2:15pm
Walker Court, Art Gallery of Ontario
Free with admission

What’s on this week: The AGO Maharaja Festival

January 24th, 2011

This is going to be a busy week at the AGO.

You may not know this but 2011 is The Year of India in Canada and, to celebrate, the AGO is hosting its very own Maharaja Festival!

Here’s a highlight of the events taking place between Wednesday, January 26 – Sunday, January 30, 2011. The complete list of events is available here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

  • Sound artist Debashis Sinha performs Shruti, combining video footage and sound recordings from Kolkata, in Walker Court from 6:30-8:30 pm.
  • Sitar player Anwar Kurshid performs in the exhibition gallery between 1:30-6:00 pm.
  • South Asian dance company InDance performs in the exhibition gallery between 6:00-8:00 pm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

  • Join tours of the Maharaja exhibition exploring trends in fashion, colour, textiles and design at 12:00 pm in Walker Court (also on Saturday and Sunday).
  • Classical dancer Genevieve Beaulieu performs court dances in the exhibition gallery between 1:30-4:30 pm.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011 (Family Sunday)

  • Make Rangoli Floor Art with artist Asha Aditi using spices, grains, mirrors, bottle caps and more as well as other crafts in the Beastly Tales exhibition from 1:00-4:00 pm.
  • Toronto Tabla Ensemble performs at 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm at Walker Court, followed by the chance to learn some cool dance moves.
  • Kids can join their own ‘royal’ procession through Walker Court at 3:00 pm!
  • Classical dancer Genevieve Beaulieu performs court dances in the exhibition gallery between 1:30-4:30 pm.
  • Frank Weber of the Tea Emporium demonstrates tea-making in the Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium from 2:00-4:00 pm.

It is going to be a great week! And remember, the complete list of events is available here.

Bageshree Vaze on the Maharaja Exhibition

January 23rd, 2011

Bageshree Vaze has performed kathak dance, accompanied by her husband Vineet Vyas on tabla, numerous times during the Maharaja exhibition. She shares her thoughts with Jim Shedden, Project Manager of Publications and Special Projects at the AGO.

Performing in the exhibition has been a unique experience for me my husband and me. That’s partly because it’s a museum, of course, but mainly because there’s been an attempt to recreate the experience of performing in the maharaja era, when musicians and dancers were invited to showcase their latest work in the courts.

The audiences have been very interested in the history of the culture. They’re curious and engaged. Indian culture is so vast and diverse that, in our experience, even people of south Asian descent may not know much about Indian classical music and dance. It was never part of the mainstream culture, nor is it today. On the other hand, the transmission of knowledge is so much more fluid these days with the internet that we’re encountering some audience members with a casual knowledge of kathak dance and Indian percussion traditions.

Children respond very well to what we’re doing. Percussion alone usually captivates children, but the dance is also so visual that it’s hard not to be fascinated with it. We love talking to children of all backgrounds because we’re immersed in South Asian culture, but we were born and raised in Canada like so many of the visitors, so we can make connections, bridging the cultures.

Inevitably we’re asked about politics. There’s no getting around it: kathak developed in the context of violent warfare and, today, it reflects of a blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions. What makes it of primary interest today however, is the art, the beauty, of the music, dance and costume. Like all art, it ultimately transcends politics.”

Bageshree Vaze is giving dance demonstrations during Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. For a detailed schedule of performances, see here.

Tea and Talk

January 21st, 2011

Join us for tea at the AGO!

Tea Demonstration
Join Frank Weber from the Tea Emporium in the Sculpture Atrium on Sunday January 30th, 2011 between 2-4pm. Frank will be sampling two popular Indian teas and providing information about tea in India. Come have a taste and ask questions of this industry expert!

Tea for Two in the Members’ Lounge
Join us in the Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge for Tea for Two from January 22nd – 30th, 2011 from noon until 5pm. For only $25 (plus HST), you and a friend can share a delicious pot of tea along with an assortment of finger sandwiches and pastries with crème fraiche, butter, and a preserve made in-house. This special menu item is limited to members only.

You can also read a brief yet fascinating history of tea here.

Cheryl Wallace, Café Manager, Art Gallery of Ontario