The Tamil British photographer's work is greatly influenced by her complex cultural identity which is often reflected through traditions, history and strongly by fashion. Her artistic practice goes beyond photography and encompasses fine art, contemporary fashion and styling.
"It was actually from studying fashion promotion I discovered and developed not only this love for fashion photography, but a style rich in cultural and historical references within my fashion photography work" she tells us. However, for Mathushaa, as well as for most creatives in the UK and beyond, this type of work which of course involves working with other talented creatives and models has been put on hold. "This has meant that I've had to adapt and adjust. My work itself has to evolve to be something that represents the beautiful aspects of my Tamil heritage without people." When she had this realisation, her first thought was to capture still life. The first time she explored still life was for a university project called 'மரபுகள்' meaning "traditions" - "looking back I'm so proud of what the image represents in terms of my Tamil heritage and history and the important meaning behind them, however in terms of composition it's not my best work. I say this knowing that it was my first time exploring still life photography and it was the perfect base to work from."
With the UK constantly going in and out of lockdown, Mathushaa wanted to find different avenues of exploring and shooting still life with a Tamil twist, "I decided to take inspiration from various artists such as Elad Lassry and Laura Letinsky but the most important person I've been inspired by has to be my Amma (mum in Tamil)."
Conversations with her mother and family members around the many differently aspect of Tamil culture, history and Hinduism hasn't just led to some amazing ideas, it's been an educational and important experience and a for the photographer the perfect way to remember and reflect. She tells us that during her time in lockdown, she's learnt invaluable lessons about her background, "I've learnt and realised how intertwined my life in London has been with my Tamil culture, even since I was a baby and, in this time, I've realised how important certain Tamil traditions and beliefs are, especially with our important history with Sri Lankan civil war, the eradication of Tamils/ Tamil genocide and impact this has been with Tamil diaspora, this itself just show why it's so important for some of us to hold on to these Tamil aspects."
Words by Mathushaa Sagthidas
Edited by Aisha Ayoade