Various bodies of your work speak to your relationship with your mother. You often use photographs of your mother as a way to cite her experiences of migration, her sacrifices, her guidance as a source of strength and courage - not just within your practice but also within your life.
My mother has very few photographs of herself growing up, and nobody in my family had seen a portrait of her aged 15 until I discovered it in our family’s archive. Since I was 8 years old, my mother has beat cancer twice, and I feel like I have only really seen her get older and weaker, day by day. She’s now 57 and this photograph takes me back to a mum I never knew: one that wore flats, tied her hair a certain way, wore glass bangles and went to the studio with her family to have a photoshoot.
Presentation and the way images sit with one another is an important part of the reading of your work. I am drawn to the fabrics, textures and papers that you use alongside the photographs. Why are these details important, especially for portraits featured as part of The Hijab
(2018)? What do they represent for you when they’re placed together?
Signs and symbols are crucial, they help to illustrate my projects’ narratives. In Women from The Pakistani Diaspora in England
I used my mother’s saris and jewellery from the 1970s and 1980s to represent her identity, staging self-portraits in locations that resonated with that time period. I use similar materials, make up, styles and poses to convey my intentions to the audience.
I use clothing to represent my identity, using different prints, fabrics and styles. Also, as a Muslim woman who wears the hijab, I have over 90 coloured headscarves. Colour therefore was particularly important for me in The Hijab
as it emphasised the diversity of women who choose to wear the hijab all over the world, expressing their own individuality.
When photographing that series, I specifically chose materials and styles that resonated with my models’ ethnic backgrounds. In Gambian Muslimah
, the sitter (a Gambian-Muslim woman) brought her mother’s headscarf and styled it herself to represent her cultural identity within the understanding of hijab. Using exaggerated make-up, I wanted to emphasise the creativity of these Muslim women, and describe their identity and this hybrid culture that comes from living in the UK.