Five (and a bit) Questions with… Nasreen Raja
Identity plays a huge role in my craft; everything I create is inspired by who I am and where I come from. My work draws on Pakistani culture, crafts, textiles and architecture as well as my experience growing up as a British Muslim.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am a textiles designer, specialising in printed textiles and illustration. I chose to pursue this as it is something I absolutely love and feel passionate about. For me, art and design is a way of life and feeds into everything I do. It’s a way for me to express my feelings, ideas, and most of all, to connect with other people. I come from a Pakistani background and spent some of my childhood years in Pakistan. From a very young age I have been exposed to the arts and crafts culture of Pakistan, which I believe has added to my love for the handmade.
2. Do you think an artist has a particular role or responsibility in the world?
I think we all have responsibilities in the world we live in, whether that is helping others using our skills or lending a helping hand when needed. As a textiles designer, I believe it’s my responsibility to create work that is ethically and morally produced, from the materials I source to the people I work with. This is something I am always trying to improve on and learn more about. In this digital age, we are almost losing our emotional connection with one another and I think art has the power to bring that back, to make people feel and interact more with one another.
3. How do you see your role?
I see my role as a storyteller. People have a fear of the unknown but if we enable others to understand us, it can open doors to so many wonderful things. My art is a way for me to tell my own story and to document my culture and roots. Growing up as a British Pakistani Muslim in England, I have multiple cultural identities, which come together to create a whole new culture. I want people to see that and be able to relate to it.
4. Does identity play a role in your creative craft, and if so how?
Identity plays a huge role in my craft; everything I create is inspired by who I am and where I come from. My work draws on Pakistani culture, crafts, textiles and architecture as well as my experience growing up as a British Muslim. I am forever documenting my memories from Pakistan and my family history through colours, photographs, prints and drawing. As an artist if I want to create work that is meaningful, I need to allow myself to share who I am.
5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given over the course of your career?
To push myself to do what I love and to remember that everything good takes time to create. In this age of technology, I feel that we always want instant results. In reality however, it takes time to develop good things and we need to be patient with ourselves in what we are trying to achieve.
A bit more…
Where’s your favourite place to see art?
Spaces where I am able to interact with the art. My recent favourites have been the London Design Biennale at Somerset House as well as the Alchemy Festival, which takes place at the Southbank Centre each year.
Nasreen was part of our Amal teaser video along with several other artists. You can find out more about them here:
Alia Al Zougbi – www.aliaalzougbi.com
George Butler – www.georgebutler.org
Batool Abbas – www.cargocollective.com/batoolabbas
Sanaa Hamid – www.ronakbahaar.com
Nasreen Raja – www.instagram.com/nasreenraja
Ruh Al Alam – www.ruhalalam.com
Mohammed Yahya – www.facebook.com/MohammedYahya
May Robertson – www.mayrobertson.co.uk
Salahuddin Mazhary – www.instagram.com/adventuresinfashionistan
Alton Letto – www.twitter.com/altonletto
Thahmina Haseen – www.goldentiffin.co
Maab Adams – www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK_G-h1uep8