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Fashion (MA)

Mah-e-Nau Rafiq

Mah-e-Nau is a Pakistan born and London based multi-disciplinary artist specialising in Womenswear, Textiles and Sculpture. She completed her Bachelors in Fashion from Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design with an award in recognition as one of the leading graduates from her course. After working for a few years as a womenswear designer, she enrolled in Central Saint Martins Graduate Diploma in Fashion programme and graduated with a distinction. She then pursued her Masters in Fashion at the Royal College of Art to further her practice.

Mah-e-Nau explores an autoethnographic approach in her practice. She examines the synergies between storytelling, material exploration and sculptural forms. Over the past two years, her practice has shifted from traditional womenswear to now including the exploration and experimentation of sculptural materials. 

Mahenau and her son hugging - the negative space

Immigrant Identity is a body of work which observes the experience of estrangement as a result of migration – exploring themes of displacement, loss and belonging. It observes the collisions between aspects of daily life growing up in Pakistan and life in the UK. It reflects on the complexities of life, the search for identity and the yearning for recognition and connection in the journey of immigration. It expresses the transformation and fragmentation of self in the face of new environments, languages and cultural influences. The shifting landscapes, altered perspectives, and inner turmoil - the plight of the marginalised! This chain of thought started when I noticed my son speaking only in English, being born and brought up in London. This realisation that he may not be a continuation of my culture struck a chord with me.

When I first moved to London, I noticed how rain didn’t have the same fragrance here as it did in Pakistan. This made me investigate earth and how it was different here, how the soil is connected to my identity and heritage. Moreover, it is mentioned in the Quran that all humans are made of clay and shall return to earth. I think this reflects the transience of life and the profound connection between human existence and the earth. Exploring earth from both lands, translating how I feel into form with these materials, I created a series of my body sculptures. It is an exploration of my thoughts, trying to make sense of my place in the world and ultimately the layering of stories in them.

Where I grew up is embedded in me like a phantom image and I think it will always show in my work. This work urges introspection, questioning if one's physical presence is separated from their homeland, does the essence of their being remain?

different clay bodies
terracotta clay body with london clay in soil
terracotta clay body placed on the human body full of clays
body terracotta flat
hand with clay fingers on soil
body with mixed clays,oxides and glaze
body with mixed clays
body with black clay and london clay on body
black and white body
london clay experiment
London Clay. Body sculpture before and after firing at 1200°.
front with crackled clay unfired
black clay body
unfired work in progress
Unfired work in progress
shoulder in mixed clays
hand in mixed clays
bentonite dried on arm

Rogger Walls Binns Bursary

Much thanks to Maja Quille for kindly giving me some precious London Clay to create this body of work.