4000 Miles to Home: Youth

May 20, 2015 Bradford Civic Society

4000 Miles to Home: Youth

Akbal Singh Kang first learning to drive. The independence a car gave you, was as crucial as the status it brought.

Part VII: Youth

Introduced by Gurj Kang

“For many of the younger generation such as my Father, the Yorkshire landscape and the view of life was a different opening for them. It offered opportunity and independence with a wider variety of experiences. Being an integral part of Britain and succeeding meant integrating and adopting its methods. 

“This also meant the increased leisure time spent. For many of these youths, exploring the new landscape and being familiar with became its own journey.

Young man in Bradford.

“Rather than simply work to remit money back home, for the younger generation, consumption of goods became a display of growth and success in a new territory. 

“These photos capture the rarity of the Youth movement from an incoming immigrant perspective.  As seen in the exhibition, there was a willingness, and openness to embrace the new environment, home, and its cultures. An immediate part of this was the anglicisation of dress and appearance, and for others it became an appropriation of a Country that had only been available in distant sceneries and stories. Within the close knit group of friends with my Father, they would have the practice of having new suits cut every so often. From the archive, also key to this new world, were all the parts of being a young, and a teenager in those times.  His archive of books and literature also contains a huge comic book collection, and film and TV memorabilia.

“This extended to the realms of sports and entertainment, with football becoming a new sport that was taken on with enthusiasm and success as the future instalments will show.

Friends of Akbal Singh Kang out playing football.

“There was from this, a clear Youth scene and movement, one which would have had conflicts in the freedoms the new territory offered with one foot embedded in the Punjabi traditions and the cultural norms that previous instalments recognise, but this also showcases the vision, passion and rebellion that existed enough to want to absorb and challenge that system.  In many instances, the pictures highlight a Youth, that in place of adversity have a clear opinion on their identity, and an assertiveness in how they wish to be perceived. 

“There is a fortitude, and acceptance of this as not passing, but their new home.  Appropriation of culture through the photography, technology and cinema of the time was also significant, and the imagination of the group is visible in the way that the photos capture their adventures. These pictures are all taken of close friends and community members, and also show the desire to have this lifestyle documented within staged photos.”

There was a renewed enthusiasm and confidence from the new environment and social friend groups became a way to explore those identities.

Leisure time was significant, and allowed integration into local competition, and the cultures and social groups that surround Sport and entertainment.

These sceneries and the landscape would have been new to see and understand, with a curiosity in the differences in geology, region and culture.

The days out became events, and the sense of identity and partaking of culture also meant being able to understand and reflect it. Many of the influences would come from media, but Akbal Singh Kang, and the group wanted to have their own unique style and stance. Representing themselves as not only capable, but also proficient in the culture was a significant part of being able to succeed in the new environment.

In addition to simply being entertainment and a chance to explore, these journeys also helped to bond them to experiences and locations that would help them understand their new home.

Blackpool: There was a desire to participate in British culture, including the idea of leisure travel and to the seaside, from Bradford.

The trips to the seaside, and the holidaying around the UK would also open up many of the new arrivals to landscapes and locations that they wouldn’t have ever seen previously in the Northern and landlocked Punjab region. The photo’s here are important for the fact that they wish to incorporate landmarks or new locations into the photo as a document of their new life.

A friend poses in new attire.

Akbal Singh Kang: A rare portrait taken by someone else.