This piece was made specially for ‘par-al-lax’ – a Group Exhibition of 2D and 3D work by London based artists of mixed-heritage and mixed-ethnicity. My father was Pakistani and my mother is English. Now in my forties, my attitude and that of modern society has changed towards those with mixed heritage. When I was growing up in the 70s/80s my background brought me embarrassment and confusion. I couldn’t understand why others thought I was so different. My siblings have much darker skin than me – I look white – and this also led to me having to explain my funny foreign name. Sometimes this was met with disbelief and I constantly seemed to have to justify who I was. I could never just be myself.
My piece for this exhibition illustrates these two sides. It is based on the idea of a Venn Diagram – with the cross section in the middle having two layers of glass. This intersection – the mixing of the two sides – the mixing of different colours and textures of glass – gives a rich and complex surface. The mixing of both sides of my family gives me a richer life experience but also a more complex relationship with the world. The parallax effect – the thickness of the glass – means that as you move around the piece, the view changes slightly, symbolic of my (and others) shifting attitude to my background. The lines of multi coloured glass marching towards the central motif describe the many hundreds of generations behind me – we are all the culmination of countless unions of different families, cultures and peoples. The marbles illustrate my once fractured view of non-mixed race people – whole and perfect. I longed to be like them – now I am very glad I am exactly who I am. I am drawn to maps and diagrams as they explain and inform our view of the world. This exploration is helping me to decide who I am and where I belong.