Jason Scott Tilley, People of India (Exhibition review)

People of India – Jason Scott Tilley


I went to see Jason Scott Tilley’s exhibition titled ‘People of India’. I saw it on the opening night at the Herbert Art Gallery and Jason Scott Tilley himself was there talking to people and explaining his work. The exhibition consisted of photographs of people in india taken by three generations of photographers. There were 3 series of work from each of the photographers with the first 2 covering key historic periods in India.

The first was published between 1868 and 1875 which were taken to ‘demonstrate different regional characteristics’. Reverend E Godfrey is a distant relative of Jason Tilley who contributed to the work ‘People of India’

The second series was by Jason’s Grandfather, Bert Scott, Times of India. The shots included both personal (Of friends and family as well as official shots. There were cases with artefacts in such as, Bert’s camera, family photograph albums, medals and newspaper clippings. I feel that these artefacts added a very personal touch and additional background information and insight to the exhibition. Having the 2 generations of photographs work on display really helped me to dive into Jason’s work and story and reasons behind his own series of work.

Jason’s work consisted of a large collection of prints of analogue nature. Beside each print was a paragraph of information about the person he had photographed. This really allowed me as a viewer to engage with the content and the paragraph of information describing either the encounter with the person in the photograph or a story about that person really allowed me to connect with the photograph and I found myself fascinated with them. I felt at times that some of the narrative displayed with the photograph was more important and immersive than the image itself. The images did reply on the narrative accompanying them and I am unsure that they would work without the extra information.

The photographs were displayed in frames equally distanced apart and were all consistently printed and displayed. This really helped to make the differences between the people in the photographs stand out.

I would highly recommend visiting this exhibition in Coventry and would suggest you set aside enough time as I am sure, like me, you will become immersed in the interesting lives and diverse range of people Jason has photographed in India.

Further Links

People of india exhibition review, FIBIS 

People of india, The library of Birmingham

BBC News, In pictures: People of India