By C.P. Belliappa
Dr Nima Poovaya-Smith (in picture) was awarded the prestigious Order of the British Empire (OBE) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. I am sure she is the first Kodavathi to receive this accolade. As far as I know, Field Marshal Cariappa was the only other Kodava to be honoured with an OBE. Nima received the OBE in recognition for her services to Arts and Museums.
Daughter of Ammanichanda Poovaya and my aunt Muthi (née Biddanda); Nima had her early education in Belgaum, where her father worked for many years. She did her PhD under the acclaimed literary critic and educationist Professor C.D. Narasimhaiah at the University of Mysore. Nima was also a student of Dr UR Ananthamurthy, who considered her as one of his best students. She pursued her education at the University of Leeds, UK. She is married to Paul Smith, and is now settled in the UK.
Nima Poovaya-Smith is the founder Director of Alchemy Anew, a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council that was launched in 2004. The distinguished David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, is the Chair of Alchemy Anew. For more details visit: http://alchemyanew.com
Examples of recent projects initiated and curated by Alchemy include the hugely successful Loretta Braganza: Clay Journeys (Bede’s World, Jarrow and Studio Eleven, Hull 2015); Sacred Sounds: Sikh Music Traditions and the First World War (Opera North and Leeds and Bradford Gurdwaras) delivered in partnership with the Network of Sikh Organisations and SAA UK (2015); From the Shadows of History: Victoria Gowramma and Maharaja Dalip Singh (2015) – inspired by C.P. Belliappa’s book: Victoria Gowramma: The Lost Princess of Coorg; The Hidden Diamond: The Many Facets of Leeds Library (2015) ; Love Beyond Measure: The Legend of Sohni and Mahiwal, a multi-media project delivered in partnership with Wafer Hadley and numerous partners in the region including the National Media Museum, National Centre for Early Music and Opera North (2014); Games in the Park (part of the Cultural Olympiad) delivered in partnership with the National Media Museum, Bradford Museums and Galleries, Bradford Council, Ryedale Folk Museum, National Centre for Early Music and Hull Council (2012 ); Silk: Bradford and the Subcontinent (2012.)
Nima has curated a number of exhibitions that have won widespread acclaim including Worlds Beyond: Death and the Afterlife in Art (1993); An Intelligent Rebellion: Women Artists of Pakistan (1994 – 1996); The Draped and the Shaped: Costumes and Textiles from Pakistan (1997-98); Crossing the Waters (2007) (focusing on works by artists from the African Diaspora including Chris Ofili, Sonia Boyce, Hew Locke and Yinka Shonibare) and Florilegium: Flowers in Art (2008) which included newly acquired work by artists Diane Howse and Claudia Clare.
Nima was responsible for developing the International Collections at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford and curating the Transcultural Gallery display (1997.) Acquisitions she was responsible for include works by Anish Kapoor, Dhruva Mistry, Yinka Shonibare, Salima Hashmi, Arpana Caur, Paula Rego, Peter Layton, Claudia Clare, Farhad Ahrarnia, Saleem Arif, Loretta Braganza, Tam Joseph, Zareena Bhimji, Imran Qureshi, Shahzia Sikander, Sonia Boyce and Chris Ofili. She has also collected extensively in the area of Indian textiles, silver and calligraphy from the Muslim world. After setting up Alchemy, she conceived and curated the pioneering Connect: People, Place, Imagination involving the revisioning and redisplay of the permanent collections using different aspects of the diverse collections of Bradford Museums and Galleries (2008.) She has project directed the extremely successful Yorkshire-wide project Pillars of Light: Exploring Muslim Cultures (2006-07) Freedom and Culture: The Bicentenary of the Parliamentary Abolition of the Slave Trade (2007) a national programme delivered in partnership with Cultural Brokers and involving a touring exhibition, Crossing the Waters and a major international conference at the South Bank Centre, London.
Previously Nima was Head of Special Projects at the National Media Museum, Director of Arts for Arts Council Yorkshire and Senior Curator, International Arts, Bradford Museums and Galleries. She has contributed to numerous international and national publications including books and journals on subjects ranging from contemporary art, Indian jewellery, textiles, and curatorial practice. She has also edited a number of richly illustrated catalogues on artists such as Loretta Braganza and Shanti Panchal and has presented papers at numerous national and international conferences.
Nima is Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, University of Leeds. She was a member of Council for the University for a number of years until 2010 and a member of Court until 2013. She is currently a Trustee of the International Institute of Visual Arts and Opera North.