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Print (MA)

Katrina Nzegwu

Katrina Nzegwu (b. 1999, London) is a maker, curator, writer and facilitator, who graduated from BA Fine Art & History of Art, at Goldsmiths, University of London. Katrina works as Artist Researcher for Hannah Barry Gallery and its sister not-for-profit space Bold Tendencies, alongside hosting a monthly interview radio show on RTM FM, entitled MP3 4 Bois. Nzegwu has written for platforms including 3rd World zine, Carrion Press, and Studio West Gallery, and published her first “poetry” collection, Mixtape, with Em-Dash Press in January. 

Making work that skates the line between the political and the absurd, Nzegwu galvanises dark humour, often using referential or archival material such as literature, music and contemporary meme formats to explore personal, and collective memory and experience. The core of Nzegwu’s practice is the exploration of self via the personal archive – the translation of her particular position in the world, into works that pay heed to the diaristic. Currently preoccupied by notions of semi-fictional mythology, intergenerational storytelling, and embodied knowledge, her works incorporate self-authored texts, rendered in various configurations. 

Often working with/through collage and textiles as methodologies, extant symbols and texts are instrumental in Nzegwu’s production of auto-fictive works: the use of real characters and speculative subplots, deployed in service of a search for “self.” The capacities of the sonic are also important to Nzegwu’s practice - the emotive possibilities of aural modulation to shape psychological perception, and foster connection. 

Degree Details

School of Arts & HumanitiesPrint (MA)RCA2023 at Battersea and Kensington

RCA Battersea, Dyson Building, First floor

Three tapestries hang side by side; they depict abstract patterns in shades of red, pink, orange and light grey.

This project is at once all, and not at all, about my Grandmother.

It had always seemed ridiculous to me that Harry Potter hinged his entire existential impetus on the death of a family member, until I lost my grandmother in February 2022. The woman with whom I share a name, Olufummilayo; to whom I owe so much of my personality, my morals, my flat feet - who defined my childhood summers and winters when she would come over and transform hazy long holidays into joyful memories. Returning to Nigeria for the funeral (for the second time in 22 years, and 13 years since the last visit) I was profoundly affected by a sense of knowing and not knowing - of an embodied reckoning that betrayed the literal unfamiliarity of my surroundings. It is a strange thing to "go home" to a place that is absolutely not yours; to feel so strongly connected to a person whose energy is apropos of an ultimately foreign land.

I say this project is, yet is not about Grace - it is about a process of uncovering, tied to her as a pathway. Learning more about my Yoruba grandmother, I learnt more about myself; about the particular beauty of recognising one's ontological essence, whilst belonging to multiple heritages. In the act it became clear that no story is unconnected - no person's journey is uninflected by the paths trodden by others, past and present. The cyclical nature of history; the timeless elemental repetition of feminine experience - it is all at once about no-one, and everyone.

I Am My Ancestor’s Wildest Dreams is about this inextricability of human stories, bringing together the core elements of my practice. A trio of jacquard weavings speak to the age-old tradition of female communion over the production of textiles. Weaving is more than the sum of warp and weft - it is a method of recounting, reliving and reframing. Colour, structure and fibre function as a vocabulary in their own right, creating rhythms that nod to deeper meanings. The accompanying sound work incorporates field recordings, music and binaural spoken word. Exploring notions of intersectional feminism, the work occupies various voices, including the Greek goddess Circe, the Yoruba Orisha Yemaya, Eve of the Judeo-Christian tradition, alongside my own, and the imagined projections of others. Literally weaving together words and affective associations - the interlocking of yarns, both material and narrative - the work is an appeal to the universal vagaries of femininity. My own experience, through connection with a recognisable visual language and symbolic traditions, becomes an allegory for the perennially human.

Emergent and interlocking shapes constitute building blocks for a textile design.

It began with a bag of fabric rescued from one of the chest's bearing my paternal grandmother's belongings. Fashion and clothing has always been a method via which I express myself, a penchant for presentation I no doubt owe to both my grandmothers. I selected three; scanned, simplified, drawn, and turned into a two-cut relief block. For me, actions of translation have always been profound: what does it mean to take something's original form, reduce it, re-situate it, and transform its medium?

Within Western African textile tradition, each pattern, colour and curve of the fibre bears significance. A mode of storytelling through symbology, no motif is unintentional, or devoid of meaning. The precise composition of a textile has its own message to convey, with specific patterns and colours chosen for various cultural rituals. By experimenting with layering, I was able to engage with the notion of neo-diaspora: what story is this fabric telling? How does it come to communicate both with and from the past, yet bear relevance within the present in the act of my putting it through subsequent processes?

A white, yellow and blue print depicting overlapping lines and floral shapes.
A white, blue, black and red print depicting lines, circles, ovals, pentagons and floral shapes.
A white and red print depicting lines, circles, ovals, pentagons and floral shapes.


Lino print on Fabriano


20 x 30 cm

My fascination with mythopoesis, and my forays into notions of ephemerality in relation to concepts of inherited trauma, epigenetics, and somatic tracing, has led to the following series of writings. Increasingly the two strands of my practice have become less and less distinct: the people that we are constitute composites of an infinite number of fragments – of the stories we consume, the places we’ve visited, the images that have moved us.

My grandmother's passing led me to Yemaya, of the Yoruba ontological tradition. My subsequent break up led me to Circe, surrounded by banished nymphs on the isle of Aiaia, turning chauvinistic men who happen upon her shores into pigs. The stepping into of my own internal masculine energy led me to Eve, unruly, selfish, and blessed of great knowledge.

In "Braiding Sweetgrass," Robin Kimmerer writes:

"One thing I’ve learned in the woods is that there is no such thing as random. Everything is steeped in meaning, colored by relationships, one thing with another."

To think through another's story is to realise that one's relationship to the earth is truly reciprocal. Ecology extends beyond its environmental connotations: when we function in communion, we witness the power of belonging to lived assemblages. Etymologically, Ecology comes from the Greek word "oikos" - a word whose meaning shifts in relation to context, but represents the most basic unit(y) of society - the concept of home. Through ecology (inter-relation) we find peace, in so far that we are home.

As tradition stands, you cannot execute funerals during the period of Lent, so my grandmother's did not occur until two months after she passed.

The day before I flew to Lagos was what I now recognise to be the day my then-relationship began to die. The subsequent sense of loss was confused with the much more prescient act of grieving my Lulu, my mental fatigue masked by the physical stamina required to endure five-days of Yoruba funereal rituals.

With hindsight, I recognise the confluence of the two events kick-started my ongoing academic interest in the Venn diagram of trauma, embodied inherited modes of knowledge, and romantic relationships - an interrogative preoccupation and predilection for dissecting encounters I am sure my friends are now very sick of.

For some reason, a lot of this sense of trans-rationality has manifested in an obsession with hands. Languid hands serve as objects with the capacity to testify: trace the lines along one's palm and you unlock the secrets of the world. Both my "heart" and "head" lines are long, deeply pronounced grooves, the latter forked in indication of a deeply analytical brain. My grandmother used to tell me I was too smart to be happy; also - always moisturise your hands because that's where ageing begins.

I dream I've procured a disease that requires my hands to be amputated. I cry and beg them not to, because without my hands I won't be an artist, and if I'm not artist then what is the point?

My brother is reading the book My Grandmother's Hands, by Resmaa Menakem, an investigation of the lingering bodily effects of racialised trauma. He has earmarked a page outlining the resolution of trauma to be a collective activity, that healing requires communal approaches and experiences.

Through this mythopoetic exercise I sense that that may be the point: my hand is your hand, and we will heal, holding hands in communion.

Glitching hands in brown, blue and red upon a yellow background
Untitled (My Grandmother's Hands) #1
Glitching hands in white and black upon a blue background
Untitled (My Grandmother's Hands) #2
Glitching hands in green, black and white upon a purple background
Untitled (My Grandmother's Hands) #3
Glitching hands on layered dark-blue fabric
Glitching hands on layered dark-blue fabric
Glitching hands on layered dark-blue fabric
Glitching hands on layered dark-blue fabric

Nigerian textile history primarily revolves around three resist-dying techniques: oniko, alabere, and eleko. The foundation of patterns are carved out of wax, melted paste applied to the cloth's surface before it is dipped in dye.

The heart of Yoruba fabric-making lies in Adire, distinguished by the use of characteristic indigo dye. Dating back to Mali and the 11th century, a brief dip in the 1970s following the development of synthetic indigo and caustic soda, the practice has recently experienced a revival, van-guarded by the new generation of fashion talent emerging from Nigeria.

My own experiments in Adire constitute a ruined metal pot, wax adorning my kitchen stove, and Dylon hand-dyed squares fluttering across my patio. My clumsy attempts have given way to digitally rendered designs evoking the colour and feel of the traditional cloth (the opting for such I choose to see as a process of translation across time, and not a cop out). Though a skill yet much requiring honing, skimming off the melted wax as it boiled to the surface of my pot, I felt comfort in the knowledge that I was engaging with my own rich history; streaks of blue pigment embedded into the heartlines on my hands.


Dye sublimation on volando voile


141 x 66 cm
A red, pink and white abstract pattern
Kitchen Witch #1
A green, silver and white abstract pattern
Kitchen Witch #2
A green, silver and white abstract pattern
Kitchen Witch #2
A red, pink and white abstract pattern
Kitchen Witch #1

When boiling a section of dyed Adire style fabric, the spills of liquid wax crystallised upon my kitchen counter into uncanny constellations - random spatters that yet contained within them the undeniably poetic.

In the act of taking a photo - documenting the coincidental residue of an intentional action - I thought of Derrida's neologism, Hauntology - the persistence of ancestral social or cultural elements in the guise of the present. For this is precisely what the activity was: an engagement with textile traditions, the perpetuation of a cultural memory, a temporally disjunct apparition.

I am currently preoccupied with signs - almost everyday I encounter some variation of the angel numbers 222 or 111. Derrida speaks of the trace as an absent part of the sign's presence, i.e., the act of differance via which something past makes itself known, once everything in present has been accounted for.


Screen print on Omnia Natural


42x 59.4 cm

Comprised of a set of playing cards and an accompanying publication in the style of the quintessentially British "Ladybird" books.

In an era where the urgent is prioritised and the onus for intersectionality rests on the shoulders of the historically expressed, producing The Race Card functioned as a two-fold, tongue in cheek response: as resistance to the demands of the contemporary (a tool for 'quiet quitting,' perhaps), and by forcing bodies to confront their racial subjecthood. Deploying the humorous as a route to parsing intergenerational trauma, with the set of cards and associated “instructional” publication (which aren’t offensive, because google says reverse racism isn’t real), I sought to facilitate conversation around societal expectations and assumptions of variable identities.

A square brown cardboard box with silver text on top reading THE RACE CARD in capital letters
Black text on top of variously coloured symbols, on square white cards
Black text in capitals, upon an orange floral symbol on square white cards
Black text in capitals, upon a dark blue floral symbol on square white cards
Black text in capitals, upon a bright pink asterisk-like symbol on square white cards
Black text in capitals, upon an a yellow symbol made of concentric circles on square white cards


Screen print on Omnia White; letterpress; foil emboss; digital print on Offenbach paper; hand-woven Japanese paper; waxed-thread


Various dimensions

Burberry Design Scholarship