Kavi Pujara began to photograph the neighbourhood around Leicester’s Golden Mile as a way to reconnect with the city, its residents and his own past after 30 years of living in London. The resulting images form This Golden Mile which will be exhibited at Martin Parr Foundation in October to coincide with a book of the project published by Setanta Books.
‘This Golden Mile is not about the one-mile stretch of Melton Road that turns into Belgrave Road with its sari shops, Indian restaurants and jewellers. It’s about the arteries and veins that come from it, giving life to the parts of the neighbourhood away from the central commercial thoroughfare. This Golden Mile exists in the poetry of homes, temples and street corners; it’s down the alleys and through the gaps in steel fencing leading to crumbling industrial plots. This Golden Mile is both an entry point and an ending, the last mile of a long journey to Britain.’ – Kavi Pujara
Pujara was born in Leicester in the early 1970s, just ten minutes from the Golden Mile and would visit most weekends to see his grandmother. It was a time when overt acts of racism—being spat at, chased by the National Front, being called ‘wog’ or a ‘paki’ and being told to ‘Go back home’—were common. As soon as he turned 18, Pujara moved to London and never looked back. When he did return, nearly 30 years later with his young family, making pictures allowed him to rediscover the community he grew up in but no longer knew.
A few weeks after Pujara returned to Leicester in 2016, the UK voted ‘leave’ in the EU referendum. The blame was later placed on Europeans, immigrants, and asylum seekers by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who in a speech on immigration in 2021 said, “People across the country do not want their communities and way of life to change beyond recognition.” In 2020, the Conservative government introduced The Nationality and Borders Bill, reforming immigration laws which included many controversial policies and has been criticised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It is against this backdrop that Pujara made these photographs.
Kavi Pujara : Golden Mile
220 x 265 mm