SILK-PAINTING, a drawing workshop and an animal trail are all taking place in Bradford as part of a remarkable exhibition recounting a historic Royal tour.

Bradford is the first place in the UK to host Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince's Tour of India 1875-6, an exhibition of Royal Collection treasures gifted to Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, during his grand tour.

During the four-month trip, forging ties with rulers of what is now modern India, the Prince was presented with gifts reflecting regions he visited. The treasures later toured in exhibitions across Britain and Europe, with the Prince keen for the public to see them and be inspired by Indian craftsmanship.

As reported in the T&A, the extraordinary objects are on display again, at Cartwright Hall, for the first time since the late 19th century. Treasures include a gold durbar (state service), presented by the Maharaja of Mysore, comprising trays, spice boxes, perfume-holders and a betel-nut holder - objects associated with welcoming guests to an Indian court.

Some designs paid tribute to British Royalty, including an ornate crown and 18th century daggers featuring the Prince's feather crest.

Animals, playing an important role in Hinduism, feature strongly. Rosewater sprinklers in the shape of two cranes with a fish in each mouth are based on a 12th century tale, and a gold casket features elephant-headed lions on the corners, depicted in South Indian temples. A beautiful card tray made from a Mother of Pearl shell, mounted on a gold fish, features village scene carvings etched into the shell.

A sandalwood case features intricate carvings of Hindu gods, and a dazzling jewellery display includes a gold-bound tiger's claw and a gold bangle the Prince purchased for his mother.

An 'Animal Crackers' family trail, seeking out creatures hidden in some of the objects, is part of a series of events accompanying the exhibition, on until June 18. An Animal Crackers drop-in workshop on April 13 explores animal themes in the exhibition and galleries with arts educator Sarah Deane. Youngsters are also invited to dress up as a Maharaja, courtesy of a dressing-up box.

Other events include a guided tour on April 6, led by Sonja Kielty, Bradford Museums and Galleries curator of exhibitions, followed by an observational drawing workshop. April 8 sees an afternoon of talks, featuring an illustrated presentation by Kajal Meghani and an exploration of Cartwright Hall's international art collection, with an accompanied visit to the adjacent Mughal Water Gardens.

On April 9 there's chance to explore the beautiful designs in the exhibition and take part in a henna session. On April 22 Jonathan Marsden, director of the Royal Collection Trust and Surveyor of the Queen's Works of Art, presents an illustrated history of Royal Collection displays from the time of Henry VIII to the present. He will also talk about the history of public access to the Royal Collection and Palaces.

On May 31 a family workshop called Patterns In Silk is led by textile artist Musarat Raza.

Also accompanying the exhibition is a display of Bradford Council's Indian silverware and paintings by artist Imran Qureshi based on the Bihari Sat Sai School, which flourished in the Himalayan foothills in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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