Digital Art Installation

 'As The Crow Flies'

Be treated to this historically relevant Art Installation when you visit the Castle on a Sunday this Autumn and Winter.


We invite you to join us at the historic Severndroog Castle, which stands amidst ancient woodland, to enjoy uninterrupted views of London and its surrounding counties and experience this emotive, historical digital art installation.


From Sunday 6th October, Severndroog Castle will be host to the 'As The Crow Flies' installation every Sunday until the 1st December 2019, which will be free to access with the usual Admission Ticket to Severndroog Castle.




As the Crow Flies is a 3 part installation originally created in 2009 and reinterpreted for Severdroog Castle in 2019. The artwork is based on original archival research and location filming in India. Each of the pieces uses video projected and reflected by scientifically coated glass. The back projection screen and layers of silk are used to indicate the fragility and slippage of memory and the different interpretation of historic events. It is based on 3 different ‘narratives’, which are linked by location and their different relationships to the Honourable East India Company.


The initial inspiration for the artwork was drawn from my birth ancestor, Edward Joseph Wortley, I had discovered his name by chance in the archives of the Marine Society when I was researching in the National Maritime Museum. Edward was apprenticed to the HEIC at the age of 15 and sailed to India in June 1858. He was part of a contingent of former errand boys and shoeblacks, often orphans or with widowed mothers, some of whom like Edward had also been petty criminals. They were to be paid 9 rupees a month and given straw hats for Bombay.


Two other strands were developed in response to research and filming on location. One was based on the story of Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, who resisted the British during the 1857/8 uprising and died in battle in June 1858 at the age of 29 and the other on Emily Jane, one of the many young women from England who married Servants of the Company and died at a young age from disease or in childbirth and who are buried outside St Andrews Cathedral in Bombay/Mumbai. Each of these three stories are treated in different ways.





The Boys


The Marine Society also selected poor boys from Ragged Schools to be apprenticed to the Company and this part is based around the handwritten letters from 2 brothers, Edward and William Connor, which were found in the archives of the Ware Family of Tilford. The fragments of text are overlaid on film shot on location in Bombay/Mumbai and the short sea journey to Elephanta Island. The writings give an indication of what life was like for the apprentices who suffered from prickly heat, were engaged in skirmishes in ‘outlandish’ places at a time when many boys deserted for merchant ships. This was also a key historical moment when the old Indian Navy was about to be abolished as the rule of the East India Company was replaced by the Raj. While the brothers sailed on different ships they finally met on the ship where Edward Wortley was serving and William died in his brother’s arms of the ‘brain fever’.




Lakshmi Bai


During the Indian Uprising of 1857/8 the British sought to annexe Jhansi as they refused to recognise the adoptive son of Lakshmi Bai as a legitimate heir. She led an army against them and became a heroine of resistance before her death. This piece uses short sequences from the 1953 film, Jhansi ki Rani by Sohrab Modi, located in the film archive in Pune. This is overlaid on material shot on location in the Lukshmi Vilas palace in Vadodara, Gujarat and in Mumbai and Mahabaleshwar. The aim is not to create historical authenticity but to explore some elements of myth making. The processional wedding music recorded on location in Mumbai adds a slightly disjunctive element tothe recreated filmic scenes of uprising.




Emily Jane


This piece depicts the haunting nature of overlapping cultural landscapes during the time of the East India Company and later the Raj. It uses a fictional figure derived from a19th century painting in the art gallery in Chhatrapati Shivaju Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai to reflect the young 18th and 19th English women who are memorialised on tombstones outside the cathedral in Bombay/Mumbai. The woman drifts ghost-like through the museum and the 19th century Baroda Museum and Art Gallery, based on a European model full of vitrines and classical statues. She appears in the ancient temple in Mahabaleshwar and the English Church, which co-exists there. During the 19th century she might also represent one of the “Fishing Fleet’, young women who sailed speculatively to India to find suitable husbands among the employees of the East India Company and later Raj.







Art Installation held inside Severndroog Castle, Castle Wood, Shooters Hill, London SE18 3RT


Entry available every Sunday from 6th October 2019 until 1st December 2019


Opening hours are:

6th to 20th October, 10.30am - 4.30pm
27th October to 1st December, 10.30am - 3.30pm


Free access to this Exhibition is granted with our usual Admission Ticket to Severndroog Castle.

Click here to see admission ticket prices. 



Information on how to find us is below.

Free parking facilities available at The Castle Wood Car Park.