Brotherhood | Gurkha Sons is a two part project which brings together the archive of Shreedhar Lal Manandhar with a photographic series shot by (his niece) Nina Manandhar. The series explores twenty-first century diasporic Nepali youth communities in the UK.
For Brotherhood, Nina Manandhar has curated and responded to a selection of her uncle’s work with a focus on interpretations of the concept of ‘brotherhood’ – highlighting themes of kinship, fraternity, belonging, collective cultural expression, and masculinity. It draws on Shreedhar Lal Manandhar’s photography of rites of passage, which reveal the significance of group ritual and ceremony in Nepali traditional culture, festivities and society.
Nina Manandhar made her second trip to Kathmandu at age sixteen. It was on this trip that her uncle gifted her with an SLR camera, sparking her interest in photography. Nina followed in her uncle’s footsteps to use the camera not only as a tool to explore her environment but also to develop projects which depict dual heritage identity, as informed by her own; born to a Nepali father (Shridhar Lal Manandhar’s youngest brother) who migrated to the UK in 1970 and a British mother.
The resulting body of work, functions as part anthropological enquiry and part personal story from her point of view of a mixed race British Nepali woman, who has grown up as an insider/outsider to the Nepali community in the UK. Her interest in the young males nods to the imagined settling of her father in the UK – a hint at his life as a young man and his journey settling in London, but also her own identity as British Nepali.
The second part of the series, Gurkha Sons is installed in Bhugol Park, New Road.
Since 2004, Gurkha/Lahure families have migrated as multi-generational households from Nepal to Britain under new settlement rights. The population of Nepalis in the UK has increased from 6,000 to an estimated 100,000.*
British-Nepali photographer Nina Manandhar explores themes of kinship, fraternity, belonging, collective cultural expression, and masculinity, by documenting this new generation of ‘British Nepali’s’. She highlights forms of collective cultural expressions through style, music, sport and the social spaces these young men inhabit.
The series featured here was shot in Aldershot, it’s close proximity to the Army garrison base making it home to the largest Nepali diasporic community in the UK. The subjects photographed call themselves K- BOYZ, the K standing for ‘Kockrocka’, the Nepali word for ‘frozen-stiff’, a reference to how they feel when they go out on their motorbikes in the cold English weather. K BOYZ organise and promote their own events, parties, hosted regularly at Empire Club, a multi-functional space that began its life as a 1930’s Art Deco cinema but now serves as a vital space for the Nepalese community.
In Nepal, being accepted into the British Army is perceived as security for life. But what are the pressures and realities of life for a Gurkha family, living in the UK? How does this inform the sense of identity of these young men? What are their hopes and ambitions for themselves? And most importantly, where is home?