Visit London Blog » University of London Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:06:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brunei in London: The Brunei Gallery, SOAS Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:39:01 +0000

Writing as part of our World in London series, John Hollingworth, Galleries/Exhibitions Manager at the Brunei Gallery, explores the gallery’s relationship with the South-East Asian Sultanate.

The Brunei Gallery, SOAS is an exciting venue in central London that hosts a programme of changing contemporary and historical exhibitions from Africa, Asia and the Middle East and accompanying events. The Gallery’s aim is to present and promote art, heritage and cultures from these regions to a wider and new audience.

The gallery was built as a result of a generous benefaction from HM The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam to SOAS with the purpose of being both a student resource and public facility, and was inaugurated by HRH The Princess Royal, as Chancellor of the University of London on 22 November 1995. In addition to purpose built exhibition space on three floors facilities include the Japanese Roof Garden, book shop, lecture theatre, teaching and conference amenities.

In 2008 the gallery’s relationship with Brunei continued as we hosted the exhibition “The Islamic Sultanate of Brunei: Past and Present Culture” which contained artefacts from  archaeological sites in Brunei as well as Islamic art objects from the collection of HM The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam.

The exhibition included a beautiful selection of royal regalia used during royal and state ceremonies since the introduction of the Malay Islamic Sultanate in the 14th century. This was the first and only time any of this material had been shown outside of Brunei.

The Brunei connection continues to this day, with a number of objects in our own permanent collection from Brunei, a selection of which is displayed in our Foyle Gallery. One of the most important of these is a handwritten 19th century copy of Salsilah keturunan Raja-raja Brunei (A History of the Rajas of Brunei).

Beyond our Brunei connections, the gallery has an exciting programme of events in 2012, including three exhibitions opening from mid-April:

The Brunei Gallery, SOAS is open from Tuesday-Saturday, 10.30am – 5pm, with late night opening on Thursday until 8pm. Admission is free. For more information visit or on facebook.

Have you been to The Brunei Gallery? Or do you know of any other London links with Brunei? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Myanmar in London: Burmese Buddhist Monasteries, Museums and Mum’s House Tue, 18 Jan 2011 10:30:07 +0000 Shan New Year. Photo copyright: Toastyoneuk. All rights reserved Shan New Year. Photo copyright: Toastyoneuk. All rights reserved Buddha Day. Photo copyright: Toastyoneuk. All rights reserved Mon National Day. Photo copyright: Toastyoneuk. All rights reserved Burmese food. Photo copyright: Toastyoneuk. All rights reserved Karan Cultural Day. Photo copyright: Toastyoneuk. All rights reserved


For our Myanmar [Burma] in London post we asked Htein Lin, a Burmese artist who was part of last year’s last year’s Burmese Art Festival, to write this roundup of where to find Burmese people, culture and food in London. Htein Lin is a former political prisoner who moved to London in 2006 on marrying the British Ambassador to Burma.  He lives near the Oval.

There are thousands of Burmese living in London, most of whom have arrived as doctors, students or refugees since the military took over in 1962, as well as many others of Anglo-Burmese and Burmese-Indian heritage tracing their roots back to the colonial period. While there is no Burmese quarter, many live near to the five Burmese Buddhist monasteries in Wembley, Hounslow, Colindale, Whitton and Beckton.

Both the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum have some Burmese items on display, mostly Buddha statues, including a large early 19th-century Buddha which forms the centrepiece of the BM’s Hotung Gallery.

Nobel Prize winning dissident Aung San Suu Kyi studied at SOAS [University of London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies]  in the 1970s, and it is the only place in the UK where you can learn Burmese as part of a full degree or in evening courses. Her father Aung San visited London in 1947, staying at the Dorchester, and signed an agreement with British Prime Minister Clement Attlee in 10 Downing Street. Longstanding dictator General Ne Win used to holiday in a house in Victoria Road, Wimbledon and visit the races.

The Mandalay restaurant on Edgware Road is the best-known Burmese restaurant in London and good value. During the daytime try the Yadana Café near North End Market in Fulham. For take-away and outside catering we recommend Mum’s House, which also stocks Burmese ingredients like leq-peq (pickled tea), as does the Shwe Mandalay Oriental Supermarket in Hounslow.

The Britain Burma Society meets six times a year at the Medical Society in Chandos Place W1 bringing together people with an interest in Burma for a lecture and social event.

The London monasteries are the centre of Burmese cultural activity and events, including the Thingyan New Year Water Festival in mid-April, Buddha Day in May, and the start and end of Lent in July and October. Ethnic Minority students also organise New Year’s events such as the Shan (December), Kachin (January) and Mon (February).

The other Burmese social centre is the pavement outside the Burmese Embassy at 19A Charles street W1, which regularly hosts demonstrations against the military government by exiled Burmese: 4 January (Independence Day), 27 March (Resistance Day) and 18 September (when the military came to power) are likely days for a demo.

Have you experienced Burmese culture in London? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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