WFY Today

Interesting in a British-Indian Artist’s Ice Cream Van Art

Burman’s artwork, ‘The Smile You Send Returns to You’, is one of seven proposals presented by London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday as potential additions to the iconic landmark’s plinth.

The plinth frequently features artworks that reflect and celebrate London’s multicultural essence.
Burman’s father’s ice cream van, ‘The Rocket,’ sits in the centre of the piece.

The ice cream van has been a recurring theme in Chila Kumari Burman’s works for the past 40 years. The metaphor is a childhood memory from the economic, political, and social history of Indian immigration to Britain, as well as a symbol of hope. It depicts the artist’s personal experience as well as her father’s voyage from India to the United Kingdom aboard the HMS Battory.

It’s a story of resourcefulness and entrepreneurship set against the backdrop of adjusting to a new life elsewhere.

The journey took him from Calcutta’s Dunlop factory, where his magic tricks earned him a transfer overseas, to Liverpool’s Dunlop factory,” according to the London government website.

Burman was born in Liverpool and now lives in London. He works in a variety of mediums, including printmaking, drawing, painting, installation, and film. She describes herself as a ‘Punjabi Liverpudlian’.

The shortlisted artists, including Burman, Gabriel Chaile, Ruth Ewan, Thomas J Price, Veronica Ryan, Tschabalala Self, and Andra Ursuta, have displayed maquettes of their proposed works at the National Gallery until March 17th.

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