Lata Upadhyaya

Lata Upadhyaya

Lata Upadhyaya is a British Indian visual artist and social commentator, who migrated to the UK in the late nineties. Her socially engaged practice focusses on heritage and culture through the impact of people and place. Her own British Asian identity and experience of migration from East to West informs and inspires others to share and represent their own experiences. Lata’s work represents the valuable contribution that immigration has made to British society, questioning the context of Britishness and what this means in relation to identity.

In her work “Johnny Foreigner” (2014), Lata engaged with diverse communities to open dialogues with individuals that had similarly experienced migration to Britain. Based upon her own experience, Lata filled clear acrylic suitcases with recreated objects and belongings that each had brought with them when they travelled. Each item symbolically packed into a suitcase, representing the motion of the journey and the indefinite significance that these continue to have on each individual. Each case representing the identity that had been left behind and the renegotiation of making sense of that, within a new culture and context - “A new place, on new soil, a new culture and a new beginning”.

This autobiographical element of her work also features strongly in “6919km: The Journey of a Rickshaw” (2016), telling the story of the journey of a cycle rickshaw from India to Essex; its state of deterioration; its reincarnation with a new cultural identity, that of Essex, its new home. Traditions in South Asia have led to each rickshaw being uniquely hand crafted and decorated, often considered as a folk art canvas, representing the landscape, nature and film stars of the region. They are a testament to personal dignity and an object of beauty. By reincarnating the rickshaw with the identity of Essex, Lata recreated her own journey of migration, whilst celebrating the life and culture of her home county, depicting its diversity and rich cultural heritage.

Lata holds two Masters in Fine Art, from MS University Baroda, India and The Slade School of Fine Art, London.

Instagram @imlataupadhyaya
Twitter @imlataupadhyaya

Photo: Jonathan Curzon

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