by Susan Mains
After many months of working as Commissioner to secure Grenada’s Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia, little did Susan Mains know that her runaway to make art in India would land her in the palace of a prince.
Invited by curator Rekha Sameer, Susan joins 12 International artists in the historic Fort of Merehangarh wara in Jodhpur India for 2 weeks to create, collaborate, and extend the reach of the network for Grenada and Caribbean art in the world. The artists from the UK, USA, India, and Grenada bring a wealth of practice and skills. The goal is to have the opportunity to come away from their usual practice and be inspired by the medieval fort, once the home of the Royal Family. Sameer was introduced to Mains through Grenadian curator in London, Sandra Louison, who is on the advisory board to the Grenada Pavilion.
The invitation to meet the prince at his beautiful palace was extended to Sameer and the group because of the prince’s keen interest in the conservation and restoration of heritage. The fort boasts a centre with several experts in restoration who work to restore paintings, photos, and textiles. A true honour, this group is the first ever of artists to inhabit the memory-filled spaces of the scholar’s residency of the fort.
Of the royal family, HH Raj Rajeshwar Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Hindustan Maharajadhiraja Maharaja Shri GAJ SINGHJI II Sahib Bahadur, Maharajah of Jodhpur since 26 January 1952. Born on 13 January 1948 in Jodhpur, educated at Cothhill House, Eton College and Christ Church Oxford, graduated in 1970 BA (Hons) in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Founder and creator of several philanthropic institutions and charitable trusts associated with education, religion, social welfare, medical care and rehabilitation of military personnel. Chief Patron and President of Chopasani School, Jodhpur. Patron and Vice President of Mayo College, Ajmer (General Council and Governing Body). Honorary Member of Rotary International. President of Jodhpur Nagrik Association. Honorary Member of Jodhpur Jaycees.
What a surprise when being introduced as an artist from Grenada, the maharajah volunteered, “Oh yes, I have been to Grenada.” He had served as Indian High Commissioner, concurrently accredited to Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent and as Commissioner to Antigua, St Kitts, Montserrat, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands 1978/1980 — a turbulent time in Caribbean history. He proudly talked about collecting 2 works from the late Bosco Holder, artist of Trinidad.
Sameer shared with him Grenada’s participation as a national pavilion in the Biennale di Venezia, and said, “Grenada is shining a light on its own art — telling its own story.” Just another example of art taking one to unexpected places, to make invaluable connections.
As the meeting was ending, Mains took her lapel pin of the Grenada flag and gave it to the maharajah as a token to remember the visit of the artists. His Highness promised to come to the fort to view the final exhibition of the group of artists on 17 September.
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