Finalist category: Arts and Culture

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Arts and Culture Award, Finalist, 2021

New arts and heritage project, Girmit was started at the height of the global pandemic in March 2020. The project focuses on the indentured labour system of the 19th/20th centuries and officially launched at the first ever virtual Mozilla Festival, with the unveiling of a 360° Immersive Girmit Experience and online platform 

Many people know about slavery, but the term ‘indentured labour’ is widely unknown, Nutkhut is trying to change that. Girmit comes from the English word agreement and dates back over 150 years where a sophisticated system of agreements that followed the abolition of slavery, appeared on the other side of the world. This system was called indentured labour and agreements people entered into contained legislation from Whitehall, which went on to displace millions from their homeland and families. 

Nutkhut created Girmit to bring this hidden history to the fore and to educate, inspire and facilitate open conversations about this British-Fijian diaspora. Due to the pandemic the project faced many challenges, one of which was to take the entire project online and so the exploration of technology and virtual reality began. 

Artistic Director Ajay Chhabra and James Edwards Marks at PlayLa.bZ have brought together a multi-disciplinary team of digital artists, academics, heritage experts, archivists and educationalists all working toward a shared objective of highlighting this hidden story. Using virtual reality 360 Immersive film we are able to connect with people across the world and bring this relatively unknown story to life. This project will exist forever, enabling the stories of these families to live on. 

Proudly supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Mela Partnership – it would not have been possible without the The National Archives, Royal Botanical Gardens- Kew, Fiji Club UK, the Ameena Gafoor Institute, Arts Council England, Fiji Museum.  

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