Kolar’s Gold is a mixed media project designed to tell the forgotten stories of Cornish miners, their families and their Indian counterparts who lived and worked at KGF from 1890-1940 and beyond.
It was back in the summer of 2018 that this project began. A rainy day in a caravan watching the British Asian series on the BBC led to a quick internet search ‘Cornwall and India’. Among the restaurant reviews, blogs, and yet more restaurant reviews appeared the words ‘Kolar Gold Fields’. Curiosity was roused, but back then we could never have anticipated the months of research and exploration that would follow or the treasure trove of stories we would unearth. As quickly as the incredible stories of hardship, heroism and adventure of Cornish miners and their Indian counterparts emerged, so dawned the realisation that their stories had been all but forgotten (in Cornwall at least), and we were entering unexplored territory. Without the generous help, advice and time given by Indian experts on the Kolar Gold Fields this project would never have got off the ground. They graciously responded to our emails, questions and initial ignorance with warmth and support and we are very grateful to them. Credit for this project goes to them. The Kolar Gold Fields is a unique place, as were the lives of the Cornish and Indian communities that lived there, this project is dedicated to them.
‘Although often invisible in the history of Cornish emigration, the Indian sub-continent in fact played a role of some significance in the Cornish diaspora’ Philip Payton, The Cornish Overseas
By the end of the year we will have produced a CD of music, an accompanying booklet, and a short film documenting the project.
Music was and is a huge part of life at the Kolar Gold Fields and our project will reflect that, with new compositions, traditional Cornish and Indian folk music, songs, hymns and carols we know to have been sung at KGF by Cornish miners, and, most importantly it will be a collaboration between us and musicians from the Kolar Gold Fields area. It is very important to us that we tell all sides of this story and represent the different cultures that coexisted at KGF.
Our CD will be released in February 2020 and profits will be shared between the KGF School’s Foundation and the Cornwall Heritage Trust.
Why did you decide to do this project?
Cornwall has its own distinctive culture and promoting this is something we are passionate about. The story of the Cornish diaspora features largely in Cornwall’s heritage but the Cornish diaspora in India has been all but forgotten about. It was clear to us that this is a fascinating part of Cornwall’s heritage and we wanted to bring it back into the public’s knowledge.
How is the Project Funded?
The project is funded by grants from Arts Council England and Cornwall Heritage Trust
How Long will the project last?
The project will last one year and will be completed by 1st February 2020
Is the project for profit?
No, proceeds from the sale of our project CD will be divided between the Kolar Gold Fields School’s Foundation that provides education for disadvantaged children, and the Cornwall Heritage Trust, that supports Heritage projects within Cornwall.
Have you been to the Kolar Gold Fields yourselves?
Both Tom and Laura visited KGF earlier this year and there are plans afoot for the whole band to visit next spring.
How can I get involved?
We would love for as many people as possible to be involved in this project. You can go to our ‘Get Involved!’ page and use the contact form on there, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 07434964093. We would love to hear from anyone who has stories of the Kolar Gold Fields, or if you would like any further information about what we are doing please get in touch!