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Fine Art graduate shares her British Textile Biennial work

Since graduating with a BA (Hons) Fine Art from the University of Central Lancashire in 2017, Azraa Motala is working in her dream career as an Artist. She’s recently taken part in the 2021 British Textile Biennial with a body of work called ‘Unapologetic’.

Azraa creates work that aims to untangle cultural expectations and the overlapping aspects or her own identity as a young British-Asian Muslim woman. ‘Unapologetic’ explores how women from the diaspora have been represented in both the past and the present. Azraa recreates the European image of the Eastern woman from eighteenth and nineteenth century Orientalist paintings and adopts the same medium to portray opposing imagery that challenge the accepted notion of dress.

Speaking about her latest exhibition, Azraa said: “’Unapologetic’ challenges the ongoing narrative of ‘otherness’ and provides a platform for an overlooked community of young British South Asian women from the North West, too often invisible and unheard.”

These painted portraits have been on display at the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, the Haworth Art Gallery, Towneley Hall and Nelson Library. Her work has also been reproduced on banners that were on display outside Blackburn Town Hall.

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When Azraa decided that she wanted to study at university, she knew that she wanted to study something creative. Talking about her degree choice, she said: “I applied for Fine Art, Graphic Design and Architecture and when the offers came back, I decided on BA (Hons) Fine Art. I chose it because I’ve always loved it and decided to pursue what I was really passionate about.”

After graduation, Azraa enrolled on a master’s at the Chelsea College of Arts where she received the Hoyland Scholarship. Azraa has exhibited at various events, including the Solo Show at Prism Contemporary in Blackburn. Last year, Azraa was shortlisted for the 2020 Contemporary Young Artist Award by The Biscuit Factory.

When asked about her greatest achievement since graduation, Azraa said: “In 2019 I was shortlisted for the Robert Walters Group UK Young Artist of the Year award where I exhibited work at the Saatchi Gallery.”

Reflecting on her time at University, Azraa said:

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCLan. The tutors and students were always supportive, and the studios were a lovely place to work. One of the highlights was definitely our trip to Berlin in third year."

Azraa Motala, BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate