Nilangana ‘Olive’ Banerjee Explores the Disturbing World behind Children’s Nursery Rhymes in Upcoming Exhibition

Acclaimed photographer Nilangana “Olive” Banerjee takes an insightful look at the violent and sometimes sexual themes of nursery rhymes in the upcoming photo exhibit “Lullaby,” set to tour next year.

“I learned long ago that these nursery rhymes that we’re all familiar with are very violent and very disturbing and really not suitable for children,” Banerjee said. “I want to expose that reality to parents and everyone that cares for children that these quaint rhymes are not good for kids. They were not really meant for them, but are now a part of our cultural fabric.”

Project, set to begin its national tour in Los Angeles this winter, features Banerjee’s original photographs depicting her personal take on such nursery rhymes as “Georgie Porgie,” “Lucy Locket,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Rock a Bye Baby,” “Jack and Jill,” “Little Bo Peep,” and many others. To see a glimpse of some the photos, visit

“Georgie Porgie” by Nilangana Banerjee

Among the  photos is “Georgie Porgie,” which features a fearful young girl who tries to run away from a menacing older man who has grabbed her by the arm, while “Little Bo Peep,” depicts a young woman joyously holding a sheepskin that used to belong to a young sheep. The image of “Jack and Jill” is particularly dark as it depicts a harsh stepmother berating Jack and Jill after they’ve fallen and injured themselves.

“All of these stories depict adult themes that would adversely impact young children. Take Georgie Porgie, who terrorizes under-age girls through sexual harassment and more,” she said. “It glorifies the influence of patriarchy and gender inequality, which is still prevalent in contemporary society, but it also reflects how women are considered the weaker sex and cannot possibly revolt against any cruelty without the help of a man.”

Even the nursery rhyme “Little Bo Peep,” demonstrates a contempt for animals, even those that serve us: “It teaches us about having intense indifference and disregard for the other beings,” she said. “The shepherdess shows lack of concern for her lost sheep and when the sheep were dead, instead of being compassionate, she shows extreme apathy.”

Born in Mumbai, India, Banerjee always had a passion for photography, thanks to her father’s love for photography. She soon found herself photographing everything that she could, ultimately earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography at Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University in Mumbai. After earning her Masters in Commercial Photography at Light & Life Academy in her native India, she moved to the United States to study at New York Film Academy where she earned her Masters in Fine Arts, allowing her pursue a career in commercial photography.

Today, Olive, as her friends call her, is among the most respected commercial and corporate photographers in the country, focusing primarily in her specialized fields of architecture/interiors and industrial/corporate photography. Her clients have included Sheraton Hotels, celebrity chef Debb Michail, Lexicon Media and many others.

Most recently, her work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, New York and Portland and has also appeared in VICE Magazine, Good Homes India and many others. She also served as principal photographer in the book The Paleo Secret,” published last June.

For more on Nilangana “Olive” Banerjee, please

It’s also worth checking out her gorgeous Instagram @nilangana_banerjee


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