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I investigate South Asian settlement into Britain during 1980/1990, through creating mixed-media, domestic installations. I construct a space where two identities co-exist, and demonstrates the customs shared by South Asian settlers within their homes, establishing a third culture.

Made at Home

Made at Home presents a series of handmade ceramic dishes inspired by 1980s porcelain crockery, since the plates are decorated with both English and Indian national flowers. Outlined within the centre of the dishes are South Asian dining etiquettes and extracts from Imtiaz Dharker’s poem Minority (1997), to demonstrate a hybrid of western aesthetics, South Asian customs and experiences.

The plates are displayed onto an upholstered table which has been wrapped in mahogany vinyl and plastic to purposefully imitate the appearance of a dining table. The installation evokes how migrants often preserved faux western décor to retain, and continuously display their integration and interpretation of western living.

The Glass Cabinet

The Glass Cabinet installation resembles the ornate furniture used within 1980s British homes to display one’s prized items within their rooms. Curated within this piece however, are an array of ceramic bag sculptures, which foreground an unspoken act shared by South Asian settlers, of retrieving and then wrapping their most prized possessions when physically, and temporally, situated between two homelands.

Materially these bagged sculptures imitate the textural quality of crockery through its porcelain glaze and display within a glass cabinet, to further demonstrate the cherished nature of these wrapped items.

Alongside the sculptures are spilled mugs created from casting slip, embedded with lines of poetry and ingredients on making and drinking Chai (tea) in English crockery. The objects hint to the formation of a third culture within settlers’ homes by fusing South Asian traditions and Anglo aesthetics.

Custom Flock wallpaper

To adhere to the 1980/1990s domestic aesthetic within Britain, I created a custom flock/damask wallpaper. From a distance, the wallpaper pattern imitates the red flock design fashionable within 1980s British South Asian rooms. Upon closer inspection however, each pattern is comprised of birds to purposefully reflect themes of passage and migration.

The Matriarchal Shrine

The Matriarchal Shrine pays homage to South Asian female migrants who became the ‘homemaker’ and ‘matriarch’ within 1980s British South Asian homes. For some female settlers, household objects became tools to navigate gendered spaces such as the kitchen whilst undertaking the role as a ‘matriarch’ to create a home away from home for their family.

Alternatively, within my installation, South Asian household items are mounted above a miniature mantelpiece with bangles hung from either side. The installation signifies how these quotidian objects are typically concealed within British South Asian dwelling spaces, forming altogether an alter installation, which demonstrates how these items are as significant for female migrants, as the ephemera displayed on one’s mantelpiece and cabinets.

The Mantelpiece

The mantelpiece installation invites viewers to engage with conversational devices and ephemera used by migrants to send messages to distant relations. Within the installation, a cassette player and recorded tape plays on loop, with an airmail envelope containing its translation.