Arpita Shah


Nalini is a long-term project that I have been developing across India, Kenya and UK. It focuses on my maternal lineage and explores migration, memory and loss.

The series centres on my mother, my grandmother and myself and explores the intimacy, distance and tensions between generations of India-born women that have all grown up and lived across various continents and cultures.

Nalini is my grandmother’s name so the story begins with her and was inspired by her. She was born in India but spent most of her childhood in Kenya, before moving back to India. Although I visit her in India every couple of years, I realised how little I really knew about what she was like as a young woman, her memories, experiences and what her relationships were like with her own mother and daughter. Each year she get’s more frail, more forgetful and more distant – so I started this project to learn more about her, my mother and my female ancestors, because I wanted to feel closer to them.

The project comprises portraits that physically connect me to my mother and grandmother’s maternal bodies, still lifes of sacred objects and family archives that have been passed down through generations, as well as images of flora and landscapes that hold special significance for the women in my family.

About the Artist

Artist Website

Arpita Shah is a photographic artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She works between photography and film, exploring the fields where culture and identity meet. As an India-born artist, Shah spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities.

She graduated from Napier University in Edinburgh in 2006. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Detroit Center of Contemporary Photography (2013); Tramway in Glasgow (2014); Focus Festival in Mumbai, India (2015); Chobi Mela IX in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2017); Autograph APB in London (2018) and Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019). She is the recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme in Syracuse NY and her work is held at the National Galleries of Scotland.