First published March 17, 2022
We’re excited to be chatting with Mathushaa today, a London-based photographer (amongst other things) who frequently draws on Tamil culture, history, traditions, and heritage to create deeply personal work that examines the many facets of her identity. Here, she shares an insight into her parents’ experiences during the Sri Lankan civil war, which have influenced her work hugely, as well as how she discovered her passion for photography, and her commitment to finding ways to change our industry for the better. We love the intimacy and vibrancy of her work and can’t wait to see what’s next for her. Read on to get to know Mathushaa… you really need to!
Mathushaa, what’s your creative occupation?
I’m predominately a 23-year-old, Tamil-British photographer based in London, but having said this, I would actually consider myself an all-round creative. I do a lot of experimenting with art direction and styling for my shoots, especially my personal projects that revolve around my identity – Tamil Eelam ethnicity and British nationality – which is reflected through traditions, history and fashion photography.
Identity, authenticity and representation are important to me because of my parents’ upbringing and experiences during the Sri Lankan civil war, which took place between 1983 and 2009. The history of the war, and their own personal suffering and experiences, led me to learn and embrace my culture, traditions and heritage more and more.
Where have you been?
All over the place, creatively. Five years ago, I didn’t even have an interest in photography, let alone experiment with it. It was after a 1-week photography workshop that I did (more for school work requirements than anything else) that things changed and I started to question my next steps. Fast forward through a couple of months of indecisiveness and I decided to do a Foundation where I studied Fashion Promotion at Ravensbourne University London, and that is where I discovered my passion for Fashion Photography. However, it was during my degree, Fine Art Photography at Camberwell College of Arts (UAL), that I finally had the freedom to explore my Tamil heritage, who I am and what I want to be as an artist.
I’m in a position now where I’m making work that I’m happy with and passionate about. It reflects who I am. MATHUSHAA ON HER WORK
Where are you now?
In a better and happier mindset and space. I was so lost as an artist, especially after my degree where I had a lot of creative freedom compared to other environments, such as my Foundation, where I didn’t feel I had much freedom. I’m in a position now where I’m making work that I’m happy with and passionate about. It reflects who I am as an artist. The more I’ve grown, the more passionate I’ve become about finding ways to change the industry (no matter how big or small the contribution) through helping out on workshops and mentoring programmes.
Where are you going?
To find myself and work in more and more spaces and places that I never thought I would see my work. After working in the creative industry in a more 9-5 environment, I’ve now taken a freelance approach to my journey and have started working on some different creative projects – so keep an eye out!
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
Happiness from seeing so many incredible south Asian woman (that I also have the pleasure of knowing) taking over more and more exhibition/artist spaces across the UK.