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Tarla Patel - Masterji and me

Tarla PatelTarla works in the Office for Global Engagement, Study Abroad Team which looks after 600 students Inbound and Outbound to Warwick with over 200+ partnerships. Her key countries this year include Germany and Spain, and she also organises student social events.

Tarla has grown up in Coventry and has shared her personal experiences growing up with her father's photographic studio and seeing his work exhibited as part of the City of Culture bid advanced programme.

What is significant about the Masterji & Coventry Exhibition?

This is the first solo exhibition to be staged as part of the Coventry City of Culture Bid in 2021. The University of Warwick is proudly backing the bid and is lending its support to my father’s exhibition.

How has the exhibition come about?

masterjiside.jpgMy father's work was originally part of the Hillfield’s Exhibition which included work by Richard Sadler and John Blakemore, two very prominent photographers who were both based in Coventry during the post war era.

This exhibition came about as I had made contact with another Coventry based photographer Jason Scott Tilly who had an exhibition at the Herbert Art gallery. The exhibition was a collection of his late grandfather’s photography during the British Colonisation of India and of his photographs taken in response to this work. I decided that he would be a good person to speak to with creating an exhibition and made contact with him over Social Media. During this process I found out that my father was friends with John Blakemore during the 1960’s when he worked at Taylor Brother’s Studios.

What is happening right now?

Very first solo exhibition for a photographer in his 90’s! The Masterji and Coventry exhibition has been curated by local group called the Photo Archive Miners (PAM) and we have worked together to exhibit 70 of the best of my fathers’ photographs together. This will showcase black and white photographs reprinted in the darkroom of Coventry College by Jason and there will be workshops by Ben Keynswood and Mark Wood, who are also part of PAM. I am also assisting the exhibition with media interviews with newspapers and magazine.

What can visitors to the exhibition expect to see?

masterjihomevisit65.jpgMy father's work is photographic documentation of South Asian migrants coming into the country during the post war era, when Coventry was going through great changes in development and industry to the twenty first century.

The photographs in the exhibition date back from 1951 to the year 2000, and show a mix of studio, onsite and domestic photography taken at home, which gives you an insight into his life and his passion. We are also setting up a mini studio within the exhibition with my fathers’ past props, this will enable visitors to take their own photographs using the same background. We would love this to be shared on social media, please tag #masterji #thisiscoventry and follow @coventry2021.
PAM will also be working with schools and community groups around Coventry and there will be workshops at Fargo Village, The Box.

What is special to you about this exhibition?

It’s been amazing to see my father’s work exhibited and now receiving the recognition it deserves. It’s really nice to hear how so many people have been to his studio or how they connect in some way with the photographs. I am and my family are very happy to be able to celebrate this talent and on a personal level, I have found out a lot about my parents stories of coming to Coventry and how life was then. My father’s legacy continues and Master’s Art Studio is still running after opening in 1969. I am really pleased that it is one of the first exhibitions to be part of the bid of Coventry City of Culture 2021. Coventry is a vibrant diverse city and great to be part of.


The Masterji & Coventry Exhibition is running 3rd -20th November in The Box, Fargo Village, Coventry.