Creative Learning

Meet Our Tutors: Oil Painter Azraa Motala

A oil painting by Azraa Motala of a South Asian women sitting on a throne in a relaxed but strong pose.

We are so excited to announce that Azraa Motala is one of our new tutors for our Spring 2022 Creative Courses! At the Attenborough Arts Centre we make it part of our mission to support emerging artists, and our new courses offer them a chance to share their expertise and talents with so many, such as Azraa’s Cloth and Identity through Painting course.

Based in Leicester and Preston, Azraa has been exhibiting her work across the country since 2014, long before graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art in 2017, followed by a MA in Fine Art from the University of the Arts London in 2018. Her career has been driven by her immense skill in the subject of oil painting and her passion for the representation of British-Asian Muslim women, such as herself, in traditional white dominated spaces.

Within her work it is clear the respect she gives not only to the medium itself but the subjects she immortalises, as the painted subjects feel as if they control the space they inhabit. “Seeking to untangle culturally inherited expectations, and the overlapping aspects of her identity; providing an intimate narrative on the many cultural blankets making up the social stratum” Azraa has written on her website. She highlights how her work is “utilising both photography and painting to self-represent in a society where the bodies of South Asian and Muslim women are often considered pawns in political discourse. Essentially empowering and uplifting women of colour through work which touches upon the mutual struggles of many second and third generation immigrants.”

Through her large scale oil paintings, Azraa seeks to re-appropriate the image of the Eastern women as it was depicted in orientalist paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries, by using the same medium to portray an opposing imagery that challenges the viewers perspectives on historical oil paintings: “Parts of the diasporic image not only centres around remembered or imagined pasts and places but also projected futures.”

Throughout her career, Azraa’s work has been celebrated and recognised across the cultural arts landscapes, landing her as a finalist for Robert Walters Group UK ‘Young Artist of the Year Award’ in partnership with Saatchi Gallery in 2019. Most recently, her work has been exhibited at the ‘British Textile Biennial’ across multiple cultural arts institutions in Lancashire including the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, the Haworth Art Gallery, and the Towneley Hall, and her work has be shown recently at Tate Britain as part of a digital display for Tate Lates.

Through the Attenborough Arts Centre creative courses, Azraa has developed a nine-week course that provides a supportive environment for participants to develop their understanding of clothing and identity through a combination of taught sessions touching upon clothing as portrayed in paintings from the 17th century onwards and an introduction to oil painting. The participants will explore the intersection of clothing and painting from an art history perspective, gaining the knowledge and skill to begin painting confidently in oil paints.

Azraa’s incredible skills and passion for oil painting and representation will make for an unmissable course that we are so proud to host. To take part, click here to book into the course and discover your own passion for oil painting, diversity, and the exploration of identity.

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