I am an Artist, Educator and MA Research student. Here I will share my journey as an artist and researcher. Here you can get involved in sharing opinions and commenting on my findings. At present, my focus is my MA Research work, however I will share other creative endeavors, works and thoughts. This blog is for people to follow my creative journey. Enjoy!
MA Research starting point.
I wish to examine the visual representation of women of Sikh cultural heritage and discuss the impact this has in cultural, socio-economic and political contexts. The work will highlight certain historical and contemporary stories/figures of women of a Sikh tradition and undertake research with the aim of discovering new and unsung heroines from the past and present. I shall make use of visual imagery (incl. illustration) and conceptual art to serve as vehicles of expression that bring to the fore those that are currently ignored.
The depiction of women is an area of great debate and interest. Artists such as Jenny Saville (Stretegy: 1994), Frida Kahlo (Self portrait with a Monkey: 1938) and Shirin Neshat (Soliloquy: 1999) ask questions about the representation of women and themselves. I am asking similar questions but from a perspective of a British born women of a Sikh/Indian heritage. What is it to be represented as being a woman? How do I want to be represented? Is there inequality in the depiction of women and how they are represented in Sikhism and in Britain? How can one increase the visibility of Sikh women of history and today and allow their stories to be given an equal platform and status through visual medium?
We live in a world full of visual mediums and propaganda, from adverts representing women as sexual objects to sell cars or washing powder (See the Adverters Weekly, 1955) to comedy-dramas like ‘Desperate Housewives’ (by Marc Cherry 2003) and of course the use of imagery by the media. Images can and do serve to shape our thoughts and then our reality and even our identity. Propaganda is used to sell us an idea, an ideal based on the intention of the propagandist. An example of such a propagandist is Dr Joseph Goebbel (Hadamovsky 1934), who was in charge of Nazi Propaganda in Nazi Germany. Visuals are a powerful medium for communication, hence why this study will use visuals to explore the aforementioned ideas.
As a Visual artist, activist and feminist, I have explored various issues surrounding female empowerment. Works include ‘Beauty is’ (2002), Untitled I – VI (2006) and more recently Virangana (Warrior Women: Contact Theatre Art Residency 2008). Recently this year at Manchester Central Gudwara, I gave a talk about Sikh women and ‘herstory’, highlighting some of the stories aforementioned, however feel visual imagery will have a lasting impact. I have recently interviewed ten people of a Sikh Cultural heritage or two generations, Nine of who were women asking them various questions regarding the stories and images they have seen related to women and Sikhism and the impact this may have had on them. I also asked if they felt it was important or relevant to highlight stories of women in a visual form, whether that is through documentation illustrations/painting. All said yes, although obviously their answer maybe biased, it does indicate a strong need for visual representation of women. I would like to explore stories that have been told and those which have been told and not seen and give them a place in ‘herstory’.