Harris art student explores British Muslim identity

Neda Ghaffar
Neda Ghaffar

A Harris art student has explored her identity as a British Muslim through a series of paintings that will go on display this month.

Neda Ghaffar (23), a Painting student from Tarbert, will see her work exhibited at the Gray’s School of Art Degree Show in Aberdeen from June 20 to 27.

The former Sir Edward Scott School pupil hopes to encourage people to remember or become interested in art from the Middle East, in a bid to balance the negative stereotyping of Muslims.

She said: “I’m inspired by a personal desire to understand my identity as a British Muslim in the 21st century. My work combines artistic and personal traits from the Middle East and the West. I concentrate on the shapes and patterns seen from a distance of mass prayers and the facade of equality it creates.

“With all the negativity surrounding and stereotyping Muslims I wanted to bring to light the non-threatening traditions. Repetition and rhythm are focal throughout my work and I want to remind people of the innocent vibrant colours and rhythmic patterns associated with art from the Middle East.”

Neda builds up her works over time, using a variety of materials and techniques depending on the piece.

“It could be from handmade printing tools, plaster, varnish, oil paint, oil pastels or enamel – two or three of these for each piece,” she explained. “I’m very pleased with how my collection and the show has come together.”

Neda plans to carry on developing her artistic practice over the summer, before undertaking a six month TEFL internship in China.

She has fond memories of her time at Gray’s, saying it has been challenging but always rewarding.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work and grow with artists from different backgrounds, approaches, opinions and cultures,” Neda said. “Gray’s has prepared me in the best possible way to confidently continue with artistic endeavours after art school.”