Freshly graduated from her Photography degree at Coventry uni, Nilupa has talked to Curating Coventry to give us the lowdown on her practice. She beautifully combines fine art photography with traditional weaving techniques, passed down through her South Asian cultural roots, creating visually outstanding pieces.
Here’s what Nilupa has to say…
What type of artist would you describe yourself as?
I would describe myself as a fine art photographer. My work is primarily lens based combined with a variety of mediums. Currently my projects involve topics surrounding culture and identity whilst using myself as the subject. I’m drawn to the notion of working with ideas that I find conflicting/intriguing to me personally so I always feel involved in what I’m working on.
When did you first become interested in Art?
I developed my passion for art when I started my Art GCSE in school. Before then, the art we were taught was very linear and it never felt involving or exciting. For me, my art has always excited me and that’s why I’m still here doing it. At GCSE I was always the anomaly in my class with my abstract paintings and gigantic work. I loved the idea of working with so many different mediums and I was never told my ideas couldn’t work. I went onto A-levels where I studied both Art and Design and Photography, which is where my interest in photography began thus pursuing it further as a degree.
What message do you like to communicate through your work?
My work is a lot about this idea of belonging. It’s an exploration of ideas surrounding culture, traditions and heritage etc, concepts that allow us to define who we are. As a British Bengali Muslim woman, my art is very much about others and myself. Using myself in my work, I’m able to open up this discussion for where I stand in the world of art and how my practise informs others about these conversations.
What mediums do you use?
I work widely with different forms of textile as I have an interest in the connotations surrounding fabric and the notions behind the way people perceive it. This comes from the fact that I choose to wear a hijab and it has always intrigued me in the way others observe it. I work closely with different forms of handcraft such as weaving, origami and embroidery. Aided by my understanding of topics surrounding the relationship of craft vs art and embroidery being defined women’s work. My works with different mediums are informed by my own research and knowledge around them.
All my works are always related back to my photography, as it’s always the foundation of where my work comes from. I work primarily with digital imagery but often find myself experimenting with the image after.
Which artists have you drawn inspiration from?
For my latest project, ‘Grow me a Waterlily’, the works by Lala Abaddon, El Anatsui and Yayoi Kusama have been of a great influence in terms of technique, size and conceptual ideas. The work of Shirin Neshat has been both a favourite and inspiration for a lot of the work I have made. I take a wide interest in minority artists of colour as I find that they explore many ideas that are close to home and relatable to me. I’ve drawn inspiration from so many artists such as Raisa Kabir, Victoria Udondian, Nafise Motlaq, Hassan Hajaj, Nasreen Shaikh Jamal Al Lail and so many more! Artist research has always been a very big key in the work I made because it’s so important to see how others have worked around similar topics in the way you have and the way they have done it.
How has your practice developed over time?
There has been a big jump. I found my practise in terms of ideas in second year through a project I did about Foleshill in Coventry. The project took me on a trail of exploring a place that informed me about myself in many ways. In regards to the way I work, I feel I’ve always had this style of work from when I was 15 at school to 21 and graduating soon. I’ve been glad to have been pushed in every point of my art based education and developed further in the work I want to keep on making.
Do you have a favourite piece of work that you have done?
That one is really hard! I feel each of my work means something to me for its many reasons. However, if I had to choose one it would be my project Baiyn বায়ন (https://www.nilupayasmin.com/baiyn). Baiyn means weaving in Bengali and it was the project that introduced me to my own lost family history forming the foundations of the work I made on from there.
How has your experience been studying Photography at Coventry uni?
I have immensely enjoyed it. I’ve left now so I can tell you I’m not being paid or bribed for a good grade to say this but I have not regretted joining Coventry one bit in the past 3 years. From the way the course is run to the tutors, it has been a great experience! I can’t say enough about my teachers but having them around has really been what’s made the whole experience more enjoyable. I thrive off learning and they continue to feed us all this great knowledge whilst pushing us to become better in every work we make. Till this day I don’t know how all those artist names and bodies of work stay in their brain; they are all so remarkable for it and I believe it’s a privilege to have been taught by them all. What helped the most was the fact that we were a small year group and we had constant contact with our tutors. As cheesy as it may sound the photography department are like a little cosy family. I’ve always believed that you give what you get and here at Coventry’s it’s exactly been that.
What’s next for you now?
I’ m currently looking around for a more stable job so I can keep making work along side it. I currently work at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and I’m hoping to stay involved in the museum/gallery scene for a little longer. I’ve also been in contact regarding some commission based work so its fingers crossed to that and I’m really going with the flow right now and just exploring and hoping to be making some more work. I do want to still be in the art scene and it’s now just seeing where it goes.
Curating Coventry wishes you all the best for the future Nilupa! looking forward to seeing more of this wonerful work.
See more of Nilupa’s artwork here
And here are a few more of her stunning pieces…