I feel like being Asian, British and Muslim can be quite a confusing and overwhelming experience. I often feel as though I’m not in touch with my Indian roots enough or not British enough or not muslim “enough”. I understand that the differing amounts of these influences religiously or culturally is what makes me who I am but I must confess I still don’t quite understand the labyrinth that is my identity. I often think its sad how my generation particularly from the British-Asian background have begun to disconnect from their cultural roots, as languages are forgotten and traditions are abandoned. So through my work I endeavour to connect the dots and draw the lines between the contrasting and overlapping aspects of my identity.

To get the ball rolling, I asked a friend to take photographs of me in traditional South Asian clothing, as the shoot progressed my personality naturally started to come through. The idea was to show cultural hybridity and the interplay of three different worlds colliding yet creating something of synthesis, to dismantle stereotypes and initiate a dialogue where subjectivity becomes one of the determining factors of how the work is interpreted. A starting point and reference as I begin painting.

The work is still contextualised against the backdrop of orientalist painting, particularly artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries. To disencumber (neo)colonial binaries and re-appropriate the image of the Muslim/Eastern woman using techniques and materials adopted by orientalist painters such as Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, Eugene Delacroix and Jean-Leon Gerome amongst others.

– Azraa Motala