Hitesh Natalwala

Collective Memories

Hitesh Natalwala’s colourburst works combine a bowerbird sensibility and kaleidoscopic visual references to occupy the spaces in-between.

By Nadia Mohamad MAY 2016

Hitesh Natalwala is no stranger to the experience of displacement. Born in Kenya to Gujarati parents who then migrated to England in a move he dubs “the exodus of 1968–69”, he has been exposed to and immersed in new cultures more than most. With that, he says, came firsthand experiences of new prejudices. The shock and disorientation of displacement was alleviated by the great sense of camaraderie within the Indian community in North London at the time. Nevertheless, he says the effect of migration is something that has always been a big part of his work — the alienation and the effects of dealing with that prejudice lasted for a very long time, right through his youth.

Given the above, it is no wonder then that a lot of his works are imbued with a litany of references to his upbringing, culture and personal experiences. He is the first to admit that “the work feeds off that history, that kind of culture that is constantly changing and adapting based on my experiences, from the mingling of cultures — the work becomes richer after each journey.”

It’s a well-known fact that artists are always looking for new experiences to inform their practice. After many years of living in England, Natalwala, his wife and two children moved to Australia in search of warmer climes, which he admits with a bit of laughter. But the move — their “next exodus” (his siblings and parents had also, by that point, relocated to Australia) — was, in all seriousness, incredibly significant because it was the... Subscribe to read this article in full

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