An Installation by Said Adrus
11. January — 28. March,
Tues - Sat: 10am - 5pm, Sun: 11am - 5pm
Pavilion Recaptured highlights the national significance of the Muslim Burial Ground on Horsell Common. It reveals the forgotten stories of Indian Army soldiers who were once buried there. The British artist Said Adrus explores the themes of heritage, identity and memorial in this contemporary art installation.
The Muslim Burial Ground, Horsell Common
Detail of a photo from 'Pavilion Recaptured' by Said Adrus
Pavilion Recaptured by Said Adrus is the result of years of research into the desecrated Muslim Burial Ground on Horsell Common, Woking. It was carried out in partnership with The Lightbox, Surrey History Centre and the South East Film and Video Archive. Work from the project has previously been shown at Tate Britain and Southampton City Art Gallery. Said Adrus has also produced Lost Pavilion IV, a permanent digital installation about the Muslim Burial Ground, which you can see in Woking’s Story, the history gallery in The Lightbox.
Over a million Indian Army troops were shipped to Europe to fight for Great Britain during the First World War. Between 1914 and 1916, wounded Indian soldiers from France were brought for treatment to special hospitals set up along England’s south coast. These included the converted Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
The Muslim Burial Ground was created by the War Office in 1915. This followed fears that men who died in these hospitals were not being buried according to their religious customs. The burial ground was sited in Woking, close to the Shah Jehan Mosque, at the request of the Muslim community.
After vandalism of the Horsell Common site, in 1968 the bodies were moved to the nearby Commonwealth Military Cemetery in Brookwood.
The Muslim Burial Ground is now a Grade II listed building in the care of Horsell Common Preservation Society. The Society is working with Woking Borough Council and the local Muslim community to find funding in order to restore and preserve it.
Pavilion Recaptured uses a mixture of archive material and Adrus’ own multimedia work. He traces the paths of these men through four heritage sites across the South East: the Royal Pavilion, the Shah Jehan Mosque, the Muslim Burial Ground and Commonwealth Military Cemetery.
Photographs, watercolours and videos combine with archive footage of the injured soldiers to link their story with a rich history of Islamic architecture in the Britain. There are photographs of the men’s final resting place in the clean but plain graves at the Commonwealth Military Cemetery. They provide a touching contrast with the vandalised state of the original burial ground.
“Fundamentally,” he says, “the work touches and references ideas about contemporary landscape in South East England and the notion of memorial.”
For over 20 years Adrus has used his art to explore the complex history of British Asians, with reference to war, migration and Empire. This project has a personal resonance for the artist, whose father served with the British Army in British East Africa (Kenya) during the Second World War and often spoke of his experiences.
Past exhibitions of note have included Digital Bridges at the Westbeth Gallery, New York, USA, in 2003, Belonging at the Shedhalle, Zurich, Switzerland, in 2001 and Change Directory at the Kunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland 1998-99. Adrus has also received public artwork commissions, such as neighbourhood cultural mapping with artist Bhajan Hunjan in Sacred Spaces, Leicester, 2001.
Have you ever wondered about what life in Woking used to be like? Or how the town came to be the way it is today? Explore the fascinating history of the borough in Woking's Story...
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