I became fascinated by Advitiya, the 250-year-old tortoise who died last Easter in Kolkata Zoo. Brought by sailors from a coral atoll in the Seychelles and given to Clive of India, he was an onlooker from the beginnings of Empire, witnessing the easy mingling of Georgian England with the local nawabs and living through from the Battle of Plassey to an Independent India.

Told from the perspective of his last few weeks in a small zoo enclosure, the physical limitations of this existence serve as a counterpoint to the shifting complexities of the worlds he revisits in his mind.


Composition VIII (1923), Wassily Kandinsky © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2008