suman gujral United Kingdom
My history as a child of immigrants and refugees informs my practice. My parents were displaced by the 1947 Partition of India and then came to the UK in 1965. My work focuses on Partition, forcible displacement, loss, longing, identity, BLM, the Pandemic and our histories are passed down. I am fascinated by human resilience and ability to overcome trauma and even thrive in its aftermath
I feel that as an artist, I am in a unique position to cast a light on difficult issues and inspire change. I see myself as a story teller and listener. It is central to my practice to connect to my audience and share histories. Despite the pandemic, I have made new connections. People from different parts of the globe have reached out to let me know that my work has resonated with them. I have set up a collective of SE Asian women artists- we share stories about Partition, identity, displacement and racism, which has enriched all our lives and practices. Seeing we can form new networks and overcome the sense of isolation engendered by Covid, that we have so much in common which transcends geographical boundaries, makes me optimistic.
The processes I use underscore my themes. I use print, textiles and poetry in my work. Print has been used as a medium for social commentary and protest for centuries. It was an important means of recording histories during Colonial times. I often use traditional etching because the way the acid creates intentional and accidental marks on the plate echoes how events, personal, local and global leave their traces on us. Etching mirrors the acidic impact of Colonialism and how it permanently reconfigured world maps. It also reminds us that creation/transformation can follow apparent destruction. The ravaged etching plate has its own beauty as we do despite what life throws at us. I have introduced stitch and bookbinding into my work. I use knots to remember people and stories to rmemeber them. The bookbinding elements underline the fact that I am telling stories.
I have returned to writing poetry during the lockdown. It has been a wonderful way of processing this new world I find myself in. A lot of people have contacted me to say that my poetry speaks to them and even, that they have found it healing, which is humbling. It's taught me again that we have more that unites than divides us and by speaking our truths we open the door for others .