Thursday, June 10, 2010

Amrita Shergil - The Holme and The Studio, Shimla

-->Oral history is a blessing!
The search for Amrita Shergil’s (1913 – 1941) home called The Holme took me around Summer Hill, Shimla many times before I found the house that belonged to her family. Shut out from public view with high grey walls the house is not visible at all from the streets. In fact the property has been divided and sold and there are now two owners of the property, one being the Escorts Group in Faridabad, Delhi. Thus, the house The Holme and much of the compound belongs to them, while Amrita Shergil’s The Studio belongs to someone else.

Having taken the help of a senior gentleman in the locality and the shop-keepers, I was able to get to The Holme but was only able to get some pictures of it, in bits and pieces from the streets, the opposite buildings and our story tellers own house.

There was a Sikh gentleman called Shergil, who married a western woman and they had a daughter called Amrita. Look down. Can you see this house with a green roof? That is called The Holme. This is where Mr Shergil lived with his wife and their daughter. When he saw that Amrita was growing into a great artist and many people were visiting her to see her paintings, he built her a studio where she could paint and welcome those who came to see the paintings. It became to be known as The Studio”.
Of Amrita Shergil Wikipedia says that “In 1921 her family moved to Summer Hill, Shimla in India, and soon began learning piano and violin, and by age in nine she along with her younger sister Indira were giving concerts and acting in plays at Shimla's Gaiety Theatre at Mall Road, Shimla. Though she was already painting since the age of five she formally started learning painting at age eight”.

Actually The Studio is a hop-skip-and a jump away from the backside of Summer Hill Station, Shimla.

“In September 1941, the family moved to Lahore but sadly just days before the opening of her first major solo show in Lahore, she became seriously ill and slipped into a coma and later died around midnight on December 6, 1941, leaving behind a large volume of work, and a mystery behind. The real reason for death has never been ascertained, something expected in view of the overly sensationalised accounts of Amrita's life in the words of her contemporaries. A failed abortion and subsequent peritonitis also have been suggested as the possible causes. She was cremated on December 7, 1941 at Lahore.” – Wikipedia

During her lifetime, Amrita is said to have been also famous for her many affairs with both women and men.

Photo credit
: Wikipedia – Amrita Shergil in her study as photographed by her father
To know more on Amrita:

More photos:

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