Artworks of Indian origin artist to give insight on lives of British South Asian Women


New Delhi: The University of Leicester will be seen collaborating with a local artist named Kajal Nisha Patel, to gain insights into the backgrounds of South Asian Women residing in the UK. The decision came after the University received an award from the Leverhulme Trust to host her, as an Artist in Residence for 2016.

A Leicester based photographer and filmmaker, Kajal’s application was sponsored by a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Dr David Bartram. The happiness and well-being of immigrants are the subjects of study which come under Bartram’s expertise.

Since 2006, Kajal has produced work on the British South Asian experience, concentrating on issues of personal conflicts, cultural bereavement, social assimilation and the formation of new identities. Kajal will use the award to continue her artistic work and community engagement, focussing on the everyday lives of British South Asian Women. She is interested in colonial and postcolonial histories of the British Raj, its legacy of Indian economic trade and its impact on the Indian diaspora.

Kajal is also the founder of Lightseekers, a social enterprise that uses photography and storytelling as a platform to learn about and engage with key social issues. This cross-cultural education project delivers workshops to low-income areas, where civic participation and engagement are low and students are likely to experience exclusion and discrimination.

She works closely with Asian women in her community to provide an opportunity for self-representation, through intimate and negotiated dialogue.

Kajal said: “My intention is to invite a deeper engagement and understanding of the issues Asian women face and open up new forms and new interpretations of cultural knowledge. This residency will allow me to critically enhance my ideas. My practice and research will be interdependent and complementary. The resulting work must communicate to the widest possible audience, especially the British South Asian community.”

During the residency, Kajal will produce a series of multidisciplinary artworks to form the basis of a travelling exhibition at various art galleries and community spaces. Members of the Leicester Migration Network will be invited to visit the exhibition; the Network will then host Kajal at a seminar discussion exploring the contribution of artistic representation to the public and scholarly understanding of Asian communities in the UK.

Kajal’s artistic work will prove to be a medium for the University’s Sociology Department in channelling their research to public audiences.

Dr David Bartram said: “Kajal’s artistic work nicely complements research in the department of immigration and diversity in Britain.  We’re very pleased that working with Kajal this year will mean these issues can be presented in a way that integrates scholarship and visual representation.”

The act is implemented keeping in mind the sole aim of paving the way for dialogue to happen between the department and the people being represented in the department’s research on migration. (