This month artist Nilupa Yasmin has been in residence in Brixton market as part of a GRAIN and PhotoFusion collaboration. Spending time with the market traders, residents and customers, she will then make a new piece in the PhotoFusion gallery, with visitors able to meet her and engage in her process. At the same time, the gallery will be exhibiting her work inspired by the markets in West Bromwich, commissioned by Multistory, as part of Blast Photo Festival 2019.

Annabel Clarke talks to her about her Brixton residency.


I love a market! In fact, when I visit a new place, I always try to seek them out. I feel you can get a good feel of the place from them. What attracts you to them?

I have to admit, I do this too! The surrounding colour and vibrancy are what excite me the most about markets; it’s also something that I try my best to convey through the work I’m creating. Markets have a life of their own, each stall running with their own story and selling their own craft. I’ve learnt the most from markets, be it about the trade or just the many stories the residents have. I always suffer the risk of spending hours (both time and money) in a market just talking to the stall holders. I’m from Birmingham and we have a great market here, so I’ve always been exposed to the market life galore.

Brixton Market is a fascinating one. A real melting pot of cultures, but sadly with the looming threat of gentrification. What sort of things have you discovered and focused on during the creation of your new work? How have residents engaged with the making of the piece?

Brixton is an incredibly multicultural area! but you’re right in that gentrification has already made its way into the stalls. You can see it when you’re walking down the row of shops, in the way they have adapted to the current state of development. Many shops have become a lot more accustomed to accommodating to the current day, age and market they’re selling for. This is in no way a bad thing, as businesses have to thrive, and tapping into their current market is a must for survival; you can almost see the businesses that are being left behind.

Many of the residents speak about all the new shops opening a few doors down, be it the décor of the store or the most obscure things they’re selling. I’ve found that a lot businesses aren’t much aware of the change that’s slowly occurring throughout. Many have been there for years and are seeing it as just one more change in the many years of changes they’ve had. Having had these discussions with them, I fear they’re not aware of how this gentrification is going to affect them and their livelihood.

I’m interested in marrying the visual space of the markets with the products sold, the old with the new and the traditional with the modern. Residents have a lot of opinions about the ambiguous products sold by their neighbours, but are very interested in how different and far the market has come from when they started. They have all been very welcoming and very eager in answering questions I have; the hardest part has been trying not buy everything I see. I think they see me as someone who’s come to take photos of their shops and interview them, so I’m quite excited to show them what I’m actually doing with their images.

I’ve noticed that there is a very evident wave of energy I receive from the space and I can see it being implemented into the images I’m taking and later weaving. Weaving has become a sense of performance for me in this space, something I’ve never quite honed down so much of when I’m creating work. It may just be the structure and nature of the fact that this is a residency and not a long-term project, but the performative act of weaving in the direction of the images has been rewarding. I’ve woven before but this work is different, there’s character in each piece along with my excitement and surprise in what I’m making.

‘Where Can I Find This?’ © Nilupa Yasmin, 2019.

When will the work be revealed?

The residency runs a little different to what I’ve don’t before and is currently coinciding with my exhibition in Photofusion. ‘Where can I find this?’ is currently on exhibit at Photofusion till mid October.
This work was created through for the Blast! Festival, commissioned by Multistory. I am visiting Brixton throughout September and it has been a different experience in almost restricting myself to stick to just the days I’m there (so far failing!). I’m hoping for the work to be unveiled in October so that it coincides with the last weeks of my exhibition. There is also a hope to give back the work I’m creating to the market in some way, so there is a little pressure in making work they can be both proud and pleased with.

You were commissioned to make new work for Blast! Festival. How has the Forge mentorship programme benefitted your practice? What did you find inspiring about the marketing in West Bromwich. Was there a particular part that you found inspiring?

The Forge mentorship has been highly beneficial for me. Working on such a big project for the Blast! Festival has not only helped boost my confidence but has tremendously improved both my skill and confidence in working with various community spaces. The support I received from the Mulistory team (and even still do) has allowed me to expand my own outreach and keep creating work that is both accessible and for the people it’s about. It’s become an integral part of my practise to both understand and implement accessibility in the work I am producing. A lot of the skills I’ve learnt through the mentorship and commission, I’m still applying now and most specifically in Brixton.

I did not initially intend to focus on market spaces for my commission but almost just fell into it. The Forge artists were working in the six boroughs of Sandwell and I found it quite interesting how each borough had its own markets space. Going around to each one, spending time and listening to their stories is where it all began. Funnily enough, many of the traders had been a part of or had worked in at least one other market in Sandwell, many moving due to markets closing down or management changing. The gentrification isn’t as prominent as it is in Brixton, but there is that underlining issue of market spaces being sold out or of changing over time, which many traders couldn’t work their business into.

What next? 

The next few months are very busy in regard to a various number of projects. I’m exhibiting my ‘Grow me a Waterlily’ installation at The Weavers House in Coventry as part of Coventry’s Biennial of Contemporary Art. The piece explores the context of identity, home and belonging. I am also on the Advisory board for the Biennial, as well as running a number of artist workshops throughout.

In November I’m exhibiting some new work at The New Art Gallery Walsall, a collaboration with GRAIN. It’s unseen work that explores gender identity, womanhood and femininity. A lot of my personal work explore many of these ideals as well as self-exploration into my own identity. It’s been great to step a little away from my commissions/community-based work to dabble back into many themes closer to home. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed delving into a lot of theory around female identity and the implications surrounding the male gaze.

Back to starting up a residency in December/ January on a project with Ort Gallery x Birmingham Hippodrome, as well as being part of their exhibition around social class in February 2020. The residency will look at ideas surrounding identity through craft and photography whilst working with a primary school based in Birmingham. I’ve never worked on a project with a primary school before, so this going to be a very interesting experience.

I think that’s about me for a while. I’m quite excited with the mixture of projects/exhibitions lined up but I know I’m not done with market spaces just yet (I hope).

Where Can I Find This?‘ is on show at Photofusion, Brixton until 9 October 2019. Nilupa will also be showing work at The New Art Gallery Walsall from 15 November 2019 to 19 April 2020.


This month artist Nilupa Yasmin has been in residence in Brixton market as part of a GRAIN and PhotoFusion collaboration. Annabel Clarke talks to her about the residency.

Karina Marusińska

Karina Marusińska is an interdisciplinary artist, lecturer and socio-cultural animator based in Wrocław, Poland, who conducted a series of art workshops with West Bromwich’s migrant communities during a 3 week residency in July. She talks to Bettina Fischer about her ideas and the outcomes of her project as well as the connected exhibition at Centrala.


Karina Marusińska

For your residency project you decided to offer workshops working with glass art. What was your motivation for engaging with people in this way?

I am not a stranger to advanced techniques or professional workshops of that kind. In my public projects, I combine these two techniques. On the one hand, we use materials which are present in people’s everyday life, although as readymade products only. There is no opportunity to experience them in the creation process. On the other hand, we have to adjust the level of technique to their ability in order to experience some freedom so they can get the work done by themselves or with a little of my help. I believe that when people eventually see the spectacular effects of their work, they begin to appreciate their potential in other spheres of life as well and to see their worth.


You focused your project on dreams. Can you tell me more about their role?

It has been said  that any real change in the world is first a ‘revolution in the direction of the images that govern us­.’ And that is why ‘only by changing the perception, a man changes his existence’. In today’s world, people run blindly. They do not dream because they believe that some things are beyond their reach. Fortunately, dreams are for everybody. My workshops have been a turning point when family members learned about each other’s needs. In many cases, it was a big surprise for them. People have discovered what they want … because they have spent a moment thinking about it. Painting on the glass released their ‘inner child’, for which imagination knows no boundaries. Art is the sphere of life where everything is possible. I am happy to use this fact. During the exhibition, their dreams will see the light of day. I think, when dreaming out loud, the chances are that the world will be favoured for their fulfillment. It sounds naive but I proved it many times on myself.


Karina Marusińska

What’s the meaning of the title of your project, ‘Good Visibility’?

‘Good Visibility’ is to see reality as it comes, and simultaneously to see the potential of change for the better. It also represents people’s dreams ‘spoken aloud’ and visible to others during the exhibition. It also acts as a positive point of view on the migrant community in the UK. ‘Good Visibility’ also applies to me. As a workshop leader, I try to discern and reinforce the resources inherent in each participant. First and foremost, however, I aim to make them self-aware and use their potential.


With this in mind, how was the response to the workshop? Can you share some of the feedback you got from participants?

Some people came to the workshop with great enthusiasm, others were very shy, so I had to encourage them to take part. They were afraid to start but once the shapes began to appear, they could not stop themselves. Some have discovered in themselves or in their children a creative potential. For others, it was a time to distance themselves from their everyday problems. But for most, my workshop became an opportunity to meet people. People of all ages, views and different backgrounds met. All these differences did not matter there. I also noticed that most people have had some difficulty finding themselves in a situation of absolute freedom.


Karina Marusińska

Tell me more about the exhibition at Centrala.

The show at Centrala contained two parts. The first part is the installation of work outcomes of ‘Good Visibility’ workshop participants, along with the documentation. The second part is an artistic interruption titled ‘Viewpoint’, which will take place outside right next to Centrala Gallery. These two elements of the exhibition are different in design but both are based on the theme of the ‘filters’ imposed on our reality. Both projects utilise image manipulation strategies but they differ in motivation. I wanted to point out that we have an impact on the reality that surrounds us, even by trying to visualise and realise our dreams but above all through the active and reflective reception of the reality surrounding us.


Will you continue the project outside of Birmingham?

Yes, however certainly not in the same form. I always try to make my projects take into account the uniqueness of a place, time, cultural conditions, etc. I would like my project to be continued in the future and further developed by people who are living there because much effort is needed to engage the West Bromwich community in their creativity and self-expression.


What else are you working on?

Currently, I am in a 3-month artistic scholarship in Graz, in Austria. This time I will focus on activities in the public space. This is only the beginning, so I am not sure just yet what will happen next.


Marusińska’s show ‘What the eye doesn’t know’ was display at Centrala from 22 September 2017 until 4 November 2017. The exhibition will also be presented in Geppert’s Apartment, the Gallery of Contemporary Art, run by the project partner Art Transparent Foundation.

Bettina Fischer speaks to artist Karina Marusińska about her residency and workshops in West Bromwich and recent exhibition at Centrala.