Stefan Kucharczyk previews a month of cultural celebrations in Wolverhampton.
The hidden treasures of the city archives are to be unveiled as part a celebration of Indian cultural heritage in Wolverhampton this month.
Hosted by the city's acclaimed Light House media centre, Home from Home is part of 'Wolverhampton's Indian Summer', a festival of Indian art, fashion and food at venues throughout the city.
This Indian Summer, however, is more than just local optimism about the weather. For a city burdened by gloomy association with former local MP, Enoch Powell's infamous stand against immigration, Wolverhampton's recognition of the region's longstanding relationship with India is an appropriate and intelligent addition to the city's summer programme.
A free event on June 12, Home from Home offers a fascinating insight into Wolverhampton's Indian and Pakistani communities and as well as celebration, promotes deeper cultural understanding in the city.
Curated by city archivist David Bishop, the event draws on the extensive resources from the city archives as well as using rare film material donated from the Media Archive of Central England.
"Links between Wolverhampton and India are not confined to the recent waves of immigration, but rather go back hundreds of years," he said. "My research in the archives shows that India has had a long and abiding in[fluence on local culture."
This is an influence that goes beyond the overused balti and bhangra cliches and, as the exhibition advocates, it is a partnership with deeper roots.
David is keen for the event to become an open forum for discussion and welcomes people to share their memories of Wolverhampton's past.
"This relationship is one that has links throughout the archives, and it has been fascinating learning more about this particular aspect of Wolverhampton's past," he added.
This innovative project is part of a wider initiative, the Wolverhampton India Project, which aims to build on the existing cultural and business links between the city and the subcontinent.
But if archiving isn't your cup of chai, however, the festival has many other attractions.
Throughout June and July, many of the India Project's partners are hosting free events across the city.
Following the success of its audience with local Sikh author and journalist Sathnam Sanghera earlier this year, the Central Library is running a free exhibition to showcase Indian art, from the traditional to the cutting edge, produced by students at Wolverhampton University.
The University's burgeoning design team again takes centre stage on Thursday June 26, when Indian fashion goes on show at the city's historic Beatties' department store.
The hip Arena Theatre plays host to a night of Indian classical music on July 12 which features legendary Indian slide-guitarist Pandit, or master, Debashish Bhattacharya. Winner of a BBC World Music Award in 2007, Bhattacharya is considered one of the brightest stars of Indian classical music.
But while Indian Summer offers a cause for colourful celebration in the summer sunshine, this is a big opportunity for Wolverhampton to live up to its 'Vibrant City' nickname and to forge greater cultural understanding with one of its oldest communities.
* For more informationan look up wolverhampton.gov.uk.