Oh India fundraising exhibition launches in Sydney

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A new photo exhibition raising vital funds for a community-based education program in rural India opens in Sydney this week. 

In 2016, Sydney photographer Thomas James Parrish spent six months travelling across northern India on a documentary-travel project.

During his time in West Bengal, Thomas had the fortune to visit Kaikala Chetana, a volunteer-run, community-based education program for India’s rural poor in the Haripal Block of the Hooghly District, 50km from Kolkata.

Image: Thomas Parrish/Supplied
Image: Thomas Parrish/Supplied

Founded in 1996 by local man Somnath, who turned his family home into the first centre for learning, the program now works with over 800 children across 24 open-air locations in and around Kaikala village.

However, during the height of the pandemic, the district was hit by cyclone Amphan, which destroyed houses, invaluable crops, and agricultural resources upon which the village depends.

Image: Thomas Parrish
Image: Thomas Parrish

In response to this devastating event, the ‘Oh India’ photobook – containing 50 images from places such as Kolkata, Darjeeling, Nubra Valley and Leh, Ladakh, as well as Kaikala itself – has been created to raise money to ensure the continuation of the education program, and to aid with the restoration of the Kaikala village.

For Thomas, the experience of witnessing the importance of Kaikala Chetana for education and the prosperity of the wider village community was particularly inspiring.

"When news reached me about the devastation of the cyclone; the damage it had caused to the village and the potential implication it posed for the future of the program, I felt compelled to do something that could help to ensure the continuation of Somnath’s vision," he said.

The result is a new photo book, which will be launched alongside a photography exhibition of selected images at Abstract Thoughts Gallery in Darlinghurst, Sydney from Wednesday 16th November – Sunday 20th November.

Oh India - the exhibition

Abstract Thoughts Gallery, 197 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney
Opening night: 16 November, 6pm — 9pm
Public View : 17 — 20 November, 9am — 8pm

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