Then There Was Us

Nehal Aamir's work represents her multicultural background and experiences as a muslim woman

2022-08-23 – Interview

Ceramics, Heritage, Culture

How do we investigate creativity and what keeps us engaged in our creative pursuits? In this series, we collaborated with the great folks at Sculpd to discover creativity via play and exploration. We handed each creative a Sculpd Kit, a camera and no constraints as we begin to look at the links to our creativity.

Born in Pakistan and now living in Manchester, Nehal Aamir's work represents her multicultural background and experiences as a Muslim Woman. With a fascination with craft and its traditional techniques, her work is a fusion of her roots with an attraction for rich British culture through colour and hand-painted surfaces. Nehal has always been interested in storytelling which she showcases through tiles, a medium that has been used throughout history. Her work illustrates the rituals and realities of contemporary urban life.

Favourite colour.                                     

I love all colours but if I had to pick one it would be red as I feel like it brings a lot of energy and light.

Tell me where creativity began for you.

My creativity began when I was quite young. As a child I was influenced by my mother. She came from a creative background herself and inspired me to try many art mediums. Since then my passion hasn’t stopped when it comes to creating. I was most intrigued by clay as I felt like it had the most flexibility in terms of what I could do with it. I was very excited by what clay had to offer from its many different process and the complexity of it. 

What makes you feel creative?             

For me I think travelling back home to Pakistan makes me feel most inspired and motivated. I guess the reason why is because I can relate to a lot of it and feel connected with my past and roots. It’s makes me feel like most at home and it is a revisit to my cultural/ religious history which I admire the most and try to keep alive through my ceramics and fashion because I feel like it’s part of my identity.       

Describe your favourite piece of art.

I don’t think I have a specific art piece that I admire but I really seem to be drawn to Truck art which is found on trucks in Pakistan which are used to transport good and sometimes on buses too. They are extremely colourful and are beautifully hand painted by men. They are decorated with patterns, imagery and text that speak about Pakistan pop culture and politics, sometimes they’ll have poetry on them too. They make me feel very excited and happy to looks at.

Favourite film.                                           

I don’t think I have a favourite film however I recently watched “A suitable boy” and I found that very interesting as it dealt with the History of Pakistan/India which fascinated me as well as a perspective of a young south Asian girl dealing with religion/love. 

Favourite album.

The Black Skirts - Team Baby

Do you see yourself in your work?

Yes I definitely do as my work talks about my identity and reflects on my past experiences. Other than that the elements I use such as patterns and colour are all linked to my Pakistani roots. 

What’s your favourite accomplishment?

I think my favourite accomplishment would be to have finished university as for me it was a journey where I saw myself grow with many challenges and good times and it’s nice to be able to look back to it because I learnt a lot.   

How important are others forms creativity on the side of your practice?

I find my most inspiration from objects and pattern laying around my house which are brought here from Pakistan. Also going to ceramic shows and craft fairs and finding artists that I can relate to, especially sharing a similar.

What other creative avenues have you explored?

I’ve been working with clay for a while now but I do remember working previously with textiles, paint, wood and metal.

Is there a place you feel particularly inspired?               

I feel the most inspired when visiting craft fairs, art galleries, exhibitions and travelling country with a rich ceramic history. Looking at other peoples work fascinates me and the processes they’ve used. background or story makes me feel motivated to keep on creating more work.

Talk us your through Sculpd creation.

This was my first time using the Sculpd kit. And I found it very easy to use and felt the quality was very close to clay than air drying clay which help maintain a good finishing which I wanted to achieve. I took my time creating this week and spent a week on it because I was really enjoying the process and where my process would lead me. 

Did you achieve your expectations?

Whenever I start on a piece I always tend to draw a mock-up plan or a few ideas of what the work could look like and for this piece I kept my initial research and plan in mind but I didn’t want that to control too much of the process and what I was feeling while creating it. In the end I think the outcome was quite different to what I had in my mind however I was happy with it because it was very unique from my precious works so I would like to continue exploring this project even further. 

What inspired your Sculpd project?

For this project I was looking at  adornment worn by my ancestors. And I wanted to create a piece that was sculptural and colourful that explored elements and hints of patterns and shapes that are represented in south Asian culture. I choose to talk about  this particular theme because I personally feel such a strong connection with my roots when I wear them myself. 

What and how do you try to be unique in your creative process?                          

This project enabled me to experiment with many different techniques. I created a 3D head that worked as a blank canvas for me to add textures and relief work onto. From hand building to rolling out clay and using objects laying around my house that I used to create relief patterns and many different patterns. 

Do you think creativity is innate or learned?       

I think having a creative passion can come from within and the urge to create can be natural to one. But I also feel like you’re never to late to learn a craft/skill and sometimes it might  trigger later in your life. Creativity is one of those things that’s naturally driven towards you like it follows you and you only do it because you want to.    

If you're inspired by Nehal's work, then purchase your very own Sculpd kit here.

Thank you for reading

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Nehal Aamir

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