In the past I was a baby, as we all were and as my mother fed me I got bigger and bigger. Sort of like those beans from that . fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk only I didn’t grow into a giant and my mum didn’t just toss me out of the window. There was a whole heap of love and care.
I was a dreamy romantic little thing. I’d pick blossom to display on my record player with a bunch of other treasures i’d found either in the garden, garage or at car boot sales. I was tidy or maybe particular about certain things…3 girls sharing one bedroom may have had something to do with it but my half of under the bunk beds was always neat and orderly and I remember taking a certain pride in arranging my things. On the other hand I also remember that on cold wintery mornings
I would put my junior school uniform on whilst still in bed to avoid the cold, so not that particular about others. I had a cheeky smile that led people to believe i’d always been up to mischief but I that wash”t really the case. I like being outdoors, I was adventurous and strangely hard working giving myself tasks that I needed to complete such as rearranging the kitchen cupboards or clearing a patch of land behind the house. Quite often I’d rope my younger sister into helping me complete these tasks and i could never understand why she didn’t have the same urgency about the tasks as I, looking back i can see where she was coming from, it was quite an odd thing to do.
I loved colour, shape and texture, anything that meant i could get my hands dirty. Sewing with my mums friend, baking with my older sister and drawing, painting, crafting and general mess making with my younger sister and or often alone.
I was deeply involved with my friends and this world was the world that preoccupied my mind and my time rather than family life.
As I grew older this didn’t really change however my love of art found another express in performing arts. I would sing, dance, act do some children’s telly and put aside my record player days. I became bolder, a lot more talkative and maybe even a little cocky. Then I rebelled….a cliche but true. This was a much more uncertain period things I should have held onto slipped through my fingers but I guess it was meant to be that way otherwise it would”t have happened.
The headshot is the only photo prospective employers see when deciding to meet with me or even offer me a job. I wanted a photo that would allow prospective clients to see I could be cast as more than a stereo type of my ethnicity.but with so much ridding on one shot its been hard for me to relax infront of the camera even though that is exactly what I needed to do.
So I decided to recreate a series of photos I’d seen of the actor Emma Watson. Under each photo of her was an emotion. I wrote these down and then tried to go to the emotion for the shots in the hope it would set me free from the final purpose of the photo, is to attract work.
I wanted to capture symbolically what I understood life in the UK and Pakistan to be about.
For the UK I went to the supermarket. For me this is a place for the majority, a place of abundance and availability. The darker side to all this is that it all comes with a price tag.
For Pakistan I dressed in this luscious orange sari and gold jewellery representing the historic, spiritual and family. richness of the country.
The stance, footwear and socks are to address the fact these are just some of my feelings when the photo was taken.
The surrounding streets are where I go to buy my meat, spices, okra, aubergines and paneer, things I like. It has a high percentage of Pakistanis living in the area. Although I go there belonging to that community I am also aware I am an oddity within that community. My career as a performer/ artist can often come into conflict with some people’s idea of cultural Asian norms and values.
Whilst taking these shots I was befriended by most but also attacked by stones and showered with abuse by a few.
This is a strange place. I decided to be an actor but it’s been quite testing. I have made progress and I’m also taking steps back. I thought I’d have everything figure by now and it never really bothered me until there was someone else to really bother about. I’m single but not single. This is the longest I’ve ever stayed in a city after leaving home. I stayed to be with someone and that made me really happy. Even settled, i was sure it was the start in the next chapter of life but it would seem I have more to do in my life.
I feel very transitory yet rooted. trying to figure out what i want from this life business and who I am. feels bit shocking to feel I’m not sure of where I’m at but also massively exciting and refreshing and I feel as if this time I’m actually old or wise enough to be in the drivers seat so I’m trying to take my time and not force myself into a corner and well I’m not quite sure hence all the time but get bit scared about there not being enough time and that I’m a bit behind in all this. But here is where I am so I can’t deny it.
Years ago I read a graphic novel called ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman, it blew me away. I found it easy, informative and interesting. But in retrospect what now strikes me was the ease with which I was able to digest the horrors it depicted of the holocaust. Years later I read ‘Palestine’ a graphic novel by Joe Sacco. This time I didn’t even really want to read anything on the subject. I now realise I found it all too distressing. Post 9/ 11 I think the way I’m received in the world has changed greatly and I can never get my head around what’s happening in Palestine to Muslims by ‘Jews’ after what they have been through.
I would like to think that i’ll be proud of myself. That i’ll be the kind of person I’d really want to get to know. That my life will be filled with fun, laughter satisfying work that pays well. Family and friendship. I hope I have children and I’,m able to give them everything they need and I hope I do this with my best friend.
Water and Pillows
These shots were about my appreciation of traditional art in Pakistan seen through the lens of a British Asian. I brought the cushions back from my last trip to Pakistan. I wanted to take these shots near water and grass. I thought it might bring an element of ‘the village’ or outdoors to the photos where this kind of needle work originates from. Whilst taking the shots I positioned myself in classical Indian poses to begin with and the shoot naturally developed into something g more tribal.
Words, things, names, people or anything that is really important to Mez: