‘A Tiger in the Castle’, a new exhibition by award winning Welsh artist Daniel Trivedy, opens on Saturday 24 February at National Trust Cymru’s Powis Castle and Garden in Welshpool. The exhibition consists of a series of art works developed by the artist, which act as a personal response to Powis Castle’s colonial connections to India.

The work has come about through a collaboration between Artes Mundi, the international flagship visual arts organisation in Wales, National Trust Cymru and the artist.

A series of photographic images and a filmed performance shot inside the castle and grounds last year, along with an interview recorded with the artist will be shown in the ballroom, adjacent to the Clive Museum at Powis Castle.

Powis Castle is home to one of the world’s great collections of art and historical objects with over 13,500 items in its collection. In the South Asian Collection, displayed in the Clive Museum, there are around 1,000 artefacts from South and East Asia, dating from about 1600 to the 1830s. This internationally important collection was assembled by generations of the Clive family during the British colonisation of the Indian subcontinent and came to Powis Castle in the early 19th century.

Daniel’s work is an engaging and playful form of disruption that references these colonial histories in an indirect and satirical way. The series of works shown in the exhibition aligns with the artist’s re-imagining of Powis Castle as a potential site of learning and social cohesion.

Multi-disciplinary artist, Daniel Trivedy said: “I felt compelled to make this work, on an emotional and psychological level. Throughout the work, I have been thinking about how my identity and family history relates to the colonial history of the site. Despite the difficult history, there has been a sense of personal empowerment and catharsis as the work has developed.

“Thinking about the future, I feel that Powis Castle has incredible potential as a site of social cohesion. Through allowing a plurality of voices to engage with the collection, it can contribute to a more complex and layered narrative, fostering a greater sense of inclusion and belonging; not just to those from the South Asian diaspora, but to wider society as a whole.”

Throughout Daniel’s work the tiger acts as a powerful motif, connecting to the artist’s identity as a person of Indian descent and directly referencing objects in the South Asian Collection. Specifically, these include those connected to Tīpū Sultān who adopted the tiger as his emblem. During the British colonisation of India, tigers were declared as vermin, leading to a significant decline in their population numbers.

Ongoing research and new approaches to presenting and sharing the South Asian Collection are continually being explored by the conservation charity who are committed to presenting open, inclusive histories of the places they care for.

Shane Logan, National Trust Cymru’s General Manager at Powis Castle and Garden said:

“At Powis we are continually working with academic and community researchers to better understand the background of the items in our care.

“We are also making space for a variety of creative and personal responses to the South Asian Collection, including the lived experiences of South Asian visitors, to encourage conversation across all audiences.

“Daniel Trivedy’s work is one such perspective and the opportunity to collaborate with Daniel and Artes Mundi to encourage those conversations now and in the future is important to us.”

Director of Artes Mundi, Nigel Prince added: “We are delighted to partner with National Trust Cymru at Powis Castle and Gardens on this project with Daniel Trivedy. ‘A Tiger in the Castle’ creates a smart interrogation of place and history that goes to our core mission of stimulating dialogue and debate while drawing out resonance between the past and positioning this within the contemporary. The work is quietly subversive, approaching the collection and its context with both poignancy and humour.”

‘A Tiger in the Castle’ will be showing at Powis Castle and Garden until 31 May 2024.

To plan a visit head to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle-and-garden .

The ballroom and Clive Museum are usually open from 11am to 4pm each day. Please check for any updates to open times before visiting and note that access to the museum and ballroom is via steps only. To ensure everyone can view the exhibition an electronic tablet will be available on the ground floor offering a digital presentation of photographs.

Images: © Dafydd Williams.