Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE shortlisted for The Fourth Plinth

Wed 21 Feb 2024

The Smile You Send Returns to You by Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE has been shortlisted for the Fourth Plinth.

This installation unites mysticism, imagination, history, and culture to convey the story of migration.

It tells of the artist’s own lived experience, and her father’s voyage on the HMS Battory from India to the UK. It is a story of resourcefulness and entrepreneurship, amid the struggle of adapting to a new life elsewhere. A journey that took him from Calcutta’s Dunlop factory, where his magic tricks earnt his transfer overseas, to Liverpool’s Dunlop factory.

At the centre of this piece sits Burman’s father’s Ice Cream Van ‘The Rocket’. This has been a recurring motif throughout her works over the last 40 years. It is a metaphor for a childhood memory belonging to the broader economic, political, and social history of migration from India to Britain, and a symbol of optimism.

Burman works across a wide range of mediums including printmaking, drawing, painting, installation and film. She calls herself a ‘Punjabi Liverpudlian’ and is celebrated for her radical feminist practice, which examines representation, gender and cultural identity.

Born in Liverpool, England in 1957, she lives and works in London.