Artist Mehwish Iqbal stands in her studio pinning a delicate artwork to the wall. The paper, once light and fragile, has been transformed under the heavy weight of her embroidery.
“It is like creating conversation in the work, in a different media,” she explains. “There are elements of textiles within the painting. In the same way we might use a brush to create a landscape, each thread comes together to do the same,” she says.
These works like Carcass and Predator, are just a few of the powerful textiles works that will feature in Iqbal’s solo show, when it opens at .M Contemporary on 9 March.
Following her critically acclaimed participation in Diaspora-Making Machines, curated by Paul Howard for Blacktown Arts Centre in September and her contribution to a group show at ArtSpace in December, her first solo show is eagerly anticipated.
Mehwish is an artist whose star is now firmly on the ascent. In 2016 she worked from The Parramatta Artist Studios and became a finalist in the 64th Blake Prize. Later this month she will show at Art Central in Hong Kong and then head over to Brooklyn, NY for another artist residency. Trained as a painter in Pakistan, she moved to Australia in 2006 and completed her Masters in Printmaking at UNSW College of Fine Arts in 2011.
“My practice often incorporates amalgamation of multiple genres including print, textiles, drawing, painting, sculpture and installation art. It involves manifold layering, references of the natural world, clothing, text and embodiment of the human form through fragile and tactile surfaces,” she says.
For her porcelain sculpture piece Last Prayer for example she etched 5000 individual date seeds by hand using a surgical scalpel.
Layers are key to understanding her work and it comes as no coincidence, that Mehwish, a migrant to Australia herself, has chosen to study the experience of women entering a trying to assimilate into a new culture.
She uses clothing as a vehicle for talking about ‘fitting in’ and the labour women go through to blend with their new environment.
“I’ve been looking at dislocation and uncertainty of individuals and how displacement is effecting them and how they have a desire to move, but are not allowed to, they are in a constant state of flux.
Mehwish has done work with refugees in Greater Western Sydney to collect their stories and also get them to express their own journey through art. Some of those stories went into her sculpture work Forcefield of Complex Journey, while her textile works also use motifs from natural and animal world to reference migrant stories.
“You can see the imagery of landscape and iconic birds within the work. Birds are in fact an important part of the work in relation to migration. Birds also maintain migrating habits and can be compared to how humans migrate for sustenance survival etc,” she says.
“I just enjoy that element of human mark making. You are putting something out there through marks, inscribing a kind of experience.”
Mehwish Iqbal’s solo show FLUX can be seen at .M Contemporary from 9 -25 March 2017.