The Silk Road: A Living History, an open-air photography exhibition documenting Christopher Wilton-Steer’s journey along the historic trade route, opens in King’s Cross on April 8th.
Over a period of four months in 2019, photographer Wilton-Steer travelled 40,000 km overland from London to Beijing, traversing 16 countries.
The Silk Road: A Living History, which comprises over 160 photographs arranged around Granary Square, invites the viewer to embark on this journey too, encountering many of the people, places and cultures along the ancient trade route. The exhibition’s linear design creates a physical route for the viewer—offering the chance to travel by proxy at a time when discovery of international destinations is otherwise impossible.
Conceived with the Aga Khan Foundation UK, the show aims to celebrate the diversity of cultural expressions found along the Silk Road, highlight examples of how historical practices, rituals and customs live on today, and reveal some of the connections between what appear at first glance to be very different cultures.
It also seeks to engender interest and understanding between distant cultures and challenge perceptions of less well-known and understood parts of the world. Photographs from Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, China and elsewhere will be featured.
Of the journey, Wilton-Steer says “When we fly somewhere, we arrive at the destination and all aspects of life are different. By traveling over land, I hoped to understand more about the similarities between different cultures and learn more about what connects us.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of publicly accessible talks and workshops at the Aga Khan Centre, some of which will be led by IIS scholars. Information on these will be released soon.
The Silk Road: A Living History will run from April 8th until June 16th 2021 in Granary Square in London’s Kings Cross.