I am a second generation British Asian, my father came over to the UK from Pakistan in the 1960’s followed by my mother. I was born in the UK and straddled two very different cultures. Britain is my home; my parent’s cultural heritage was often a challenge for me to navigate.
Being a girl who was always into art I felt very out of place, and this inevitably created extra hurdles for me. Bearing in mind this was also the 1970-80’s where racism and prejudice was rife and certainly not hidden. You constantly felt the vitriol either directly or through the wounds of your family members.
At the time, I hated the burden of doing the so-called right thing and denying what sang from within my heart. My teens were a tumultuous time and it pushed me further away from my cultural heritage. I simply did not feel part of it, and at that time it didn’t align with who I wanted to be.
Time and reflection can take you on many unexpected journeys.
We navigate through life; dig deep into our souls to discover who we are and what we strive for. It is a bumpy ride as we confront parts of us that we might not like and work on being better versions of ourselves.
I grew up knowing since I can remember that my life was going to be a creative path. I knew I was going to be an artist before I even knew what that meant. It was and still is my anchor.
While studying A levels and BA Fine Arts, I found that people wanted to pigeon-hole me and reference my work to my cultural heritage. This wasn’t unusual at all for creatives like me at the time. We were labelled ‘Asian or Black artists’ as if we couldn’t be part of the mainstream but instead as exotic and marginalised. I personally hated being viewed as exotic and there was certainly more to me than the labels.
Coming full circle has become quite a revelation.
For me personally as I became an adult, particularly after having a family I started to think more about identity. What is it and what does it mean to me, to you? Media and its profound negativity towards non-western cultures and faith really made an impact on me. It hurt me deeply that what I experienced, particularly through the eyes of my family was a rich culture that had so much to offer. I was fed up with my cultural heritage being viewed as second class and especially the arts and crafts as just a novelty.
I started to feel the desire to rediscover, reclaim and celebrate my cultural heritage.
As a mother more than ever, I wanted my children to be able to learn about all parts of their identity. I wanted them to feel proud and not ashamed of their rich cultural heritage. As an artist I started to think about the arts in general and what messages and stories were being told.
Where were the stories that I could relate to? How far and wide did I need to search to find them? Where were the arts and crafts that explored techniques and processes that I wanted to experience and share with others?
It was time for me to stop asking the questions and instead answer them myself.
Being an artist, we have many strings to our bow and often work on many creative projects. Over the past year I ran an arts and crafts monthly subscription box business. Whilst I had loved this, I realised I was not truly aligning it to what was singing from my heart. I realised that I was in a position to highlight arts and crafts that may have been undervalued or deemed as a novelty from my cultural heritage.
I am now launching a new monthly arts and crafts subscription box called Fursat Box. I will be exploring arts and crafts from Pakistan and the other countries from the South Asian continent to curate monthly projects for seasoned creatives and beginners.
I never thought I would be on this journey of rediscovery, yet I feel truly aligned. When I think of my childhood, growing up at a time that didn’t value or appreciate cultural difference, I was inadvertently undervaluing myself. It has taken me until this point in my life to realise this.
I have this new inner strength because of the clarity of my vision and values. It truly is a powerful experience when you discover who you are and most importantly to value you and your self-worth.
Fursat is an Urdu word which means; leisure time, pause, relaxation and rest. I will be launching the Fursat Box this Autumn
To sign up to the Fursat box mailing to be kept up to date on the developments, offers and launch date please click the link: https://mailchi.mp/64a90aed1a9d/ukm85p0bvy