Purvai Project was selected by British Council Scotland to take part in the UK India year of Culture programmes and received funding to carry out a series of Artists trips, residencies and special performances in Kolkata in January and February 2018.

Purvai at The Kolkata Literary Festival – January 2018

Firstly we travelled to India in early January with New Passages our writers exchange project in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival Apeejay Literary Festival Kolkata.

Two Scottish writers, Abir Mukherjee and Nalini Paul met with counterpart Indian writers Sandip Roy and Sampurna Chatterji .

Together we spent an immersive week researching the Mackenzie Collection and legacy in Kolkata.

The first part of the week was a Mackenzie quest about the city – visiting his grave, viewing the manuscripts and ancient sculptures in the museum’s and meeting with various knowledgeable people in the city, researching about Mackenzie but also the wider Scottish Connections with the city of which there are an abundance. We had a series of events over the course of the 4 day Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, each day members of the group were taking part in sessions and discussions at the book festival so it was a busy week!

Yatra performance at the Indian Museum.

This was a truly magical experience to perform Yatra the story and journey of Mackenzie at the  Indian Museum.

It was hugely relevant to have the concert at the Indian Museum as it’s a place where Mackenzie deposited his collections to be preserved and available for world knowledge, to have the performance in this space infused things with a poignant atmosphere and presence which was profoundly symbolic of the whole project and it’s original inspiration.

The building itself is also absolutely stunning and has a real majesty to it.

We worked very closely with the teams at the Indian Museum and the British Council Kolkata to bring things together.


The Indian museum created a special exhibtion highlighting some of Mackenzie’s collections which they have on permanent display in their sculpture galleries, these items are some of the museum star pieces. The Director of the Indian Museum spoke about Mackenzie and the importance and significance of  his work.  It was a great thing to have the staff and team from the Indian Museum get on board with the project, working to  highlight and utilise the Mackenzie Collection in India.

This was realising a core aim of the project – to utilise the Mackenzie collection and for an Indian audience to connect with the collection.

Elements of Yatra were also performed at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Cup reception at the Kolkata Royal Turf Club