An Art Gallery of Ballarat exhibition

Anindita Banerjee. Those going home have long gone, Those travelling, have left; Those in between are still stuck, In amongst the here, there, there and there. 2021 (detail). digital print on birch plywood. Courtesy the artist


Ondormohol is a Bengali word referring to the inner or private areas of a house. In this exhibition, Ballarat-based artist Anindita Banerjee has assembled visual imaginings of a Bengali girl, prompted by inheriting a piece of antique Bengali embroidery while living in Ballarat.

As Banerjee was growing up in Kolkata within an urban postcolonial cityscape, she was fascinated by the crumbling rajbaris, the large private mansions built during the Victorian era. She would daydream about what those buildings might have looked like in their prime, her imagination stimulated by stories of that era. Years later, when walking down the streets of Ballarat, she would feel a sense of familiarity, which she describes as a third space, as if she had time-travelled, but only partially. In contrast to Kolkata, the colonial-era buildings looked almost new – clean, painted, well kept. She imagined that if she walked into one of Ballarat’s colonial buildings, she might meet Charulata, the lonely wife from Rabindranath Tagore’s 1901 story Nashtanir (The broken nest).

At the same time, she unexpectedly inherited a piece of antique Bengali embroidery. Although the material was almost threadbare, the embroidery spoke to her and pushed her further into this world of imaginings – a muddled reality of being here (Ballarat), there (Kolkata in 1990s), there (Kolkata in early 1900s) and there (in Rabindranath Tagore’s stories).

This exhibition captures the visual imaginings of a Bengali girl now living in regional Victoria brought about by the juxtaposition of an object (the antique embroidery) and a place (Ballarat). She has recorded images of her daughter, her cousins and herself, dressed in traditional wear of the ‘idle rich’ from early 1900s Bengal, performing gestures from the ondormohol (the inner quarters) of the rajbaris in those public places in Ballarat which reminded her most of Kolkata.

These interventions into public places by performances of private activities trace themes of displacement, memory and home – they create a simulacrum and manifest into a tangible rendition of this fantastical third-space.

An Art Gallery of Ballarat exhibition


14 August–23 January 2022
Open 10 am–5 pm daily



Selected works

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