Where are you from and when did you start working in the creative industries?
I was born and raised in the east of Edinburgh, by the seaside. I’ve been a creatively motivated person all of my life but it was during my teens that I began to explore the opportunities available to me. I’ve been shooting 35mm film since the summer of 2016, and I’m beginning to take it more seriously now and looking into going to art school. Art school was never something I had considered during high school, so I didn’t use that time to make any necessary steps towards going. I was more focused on creative writing back then, and though that is still a huge love of mine, I’m trying to develop my skills elsewhere so I can explore all of my options and creative prospects.
What projects are you currently working on?
I find that my creative practice is also almost always politically driven. Right now, I’m in the planning stages of a zine project with the working title of “Broke”. I’m looking to challenge the broke artist archetype by exploring the creative practices of young working class people in Scotland. It began as an idea for a portraiture project, but I realised that it would be a great opportunity to discuss barriers to access from the perspective of the young people facing them.
I’ve found that as a young working class person myself, I’ve relied heavily upon mentoring programmes from organisations in Scotland who have been able to provide the materials/experiences I haven’t been able to afford. I’m curious to hear about the experiences of my peers - and, while being optimistic, I’m hoping the zine may provide more opportunities and access to finance for those featured.
What is the creative scene like where you are?
The town I grew up in is a very creative place, but this wasn’t necessarily an encouragement for me during my development. I haven’t been able to relate to those in my town who are showcasing their art, and while at school I had the faint awareness that my classmates who were succeeding came from better off backgrounds than myself. I think, subconsciously, I internalised that and ruled out any practice that required tuition or materials because they didn’t feel accessible.
I guess I don’t give my high school enough credit - every student studying music was offered free tuition and the art teachers would stay late in their department to help everyone finishing projects. Personally, I hadn’t had the years of tuition prior to this that many of my classmates had, and gave up due to a lack of experience and insecurity. Thankfully, I’m past those insecurities and feel way more entitled to the opportunities out there and the creative practices I’m drawn to.
However, in Edinburgh I do feel like those within my age group who are practicing art do so at the university. There’s an assumption that if you’re a young person in the city, you’re at university. This has been really frustrating to navigate because both myself and a lot of my friends haven’t been able to access university. I think we all feel way more at ease while in Glasgow, because the groups we mingle with through there don’t make the same assumption and are doing some really cool things on their own.
What would you say have been your career highlights so far?
Honestly, just learning how to develop film myself has been such a huge step for me. Its made the process way cheaper and I feel more autonomous in my art. It’s also quite funny that I’ve become known as “the girl who does photos” for the club night I shoot for. I was never expecting to be identified as a photographer by others. Everything still feels very fresh, and I’m just trying to learn right now.
We are all about collaboration - do you think this is an important part of creating and if so then how has it changed the way you work?
I’m driven and inspired by identity-based art, and I feel like this is driven by collaboration and discussions between peers. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to me - I’d choose collaboration over solo work every time. There are so many intelligent, insightful and politically driven young creatives in Scotland, and further afield. They’re all changing the creative sphere in their own way, and Glasgow especially is such an exciting place to keep an eye on right now. “Broke” is a collaborative project and its the first of many projects in my head designed to amplify young creatives and their communities. I truly don’t see myself working any other way.
Who was/is your main influence?
It probably just goes back to my peers. My parents taught me a lot about empathy and drive - my working class Scottish mother and my immigrant Pakistani father - and I carry this forward in my own way, through listening to my peers and being aware of their experiences. They’re all coming out with fresh ideas and standing by who they are, and I’ve come to realise how important their perspectives are and how visible they deserve to be.
3 creators we should be checking out?
There are way too many people to count. I’d say @sarrawild as just one example of a resilient creative force in Glasgow, @030shirin as my favourite photographer who is based in Berlin, and finally Cal Mac (whose instagram handle is something to do with Gemma Collins) for always being my hype girl and being a fabulous creative force in his own right.