Biography (kindly provided by the artist)
Mehwish Iqbal (born 1981) is an Australian/Pakistani visual artist. Her art practice spans printmaking, painting, sculpture, drawing and installation art. She uses paper as one of her mediums of choice to create manifold imagery in several layers. In recent works her sculptural works are in a diverse range of mediums including charcoal, felt, thread and ceramic and her sculpture takes inspiration from interdependent relationship of human beings to natural world. Her work is highly concerned with the position of women in contemporary society, the role of children and the rising phenomenon of global migration.
Born in Pakistan, Iqbal trained herself to draw before she joined the National College of Arts, Lahore. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in 2002, majoring in Painting. She taught drawing for a year at University College Lahore. In 2004, Iqbal moved to Dubai, UAE where she collaborated with local artists on various projects and group shows exploring the notion of war in Iraq. In 2006, she migrated to Australia with her family. She went on to attain her Master of Art degree with high distinction from the University of New South Wales in 2011, where she majored in Printmaking.
Iqbal has been involved in a number of solo and group shows across Australia, New York, Turkey and Pakistan. Her work has attracted serious attention at the Casula Power House Art Centre, the Hobart Art Museum, the International Museum Of Women, the International Print Biennale Pakistan and Istanbul Contemporary and the Art Central Hong Kong 2017.
Her current practice involves working between Sydney and Istanbul. She is creating a series of new works examining various aspects of the Middle East crisis, including the resultant huge influx of refugee diaspora and their complex reception in alien environments.
Iqbal’s practice often incorporates the amalgamation of more than one medium. She uses several printmaking techniques to achieve multiple delicate layers of cloth patterns. She developed this highly distinct style to comment on the construction and deconstruction of society, through already marked surfaces with patterned instructions. She further challenges her fragile surfaces with carefully embroidered drawings of the human form and animal symbolism juxtaposed with text.
Iqbal’s fascination with textiles allows her to create carefully designed felt sculptures that explore the human condition in relation to its natural environment. She primarily works with paper, because by its nature, it is susceptible to wear and tear, much like human life. Her mixed media paintings and drawings resonate strongly with their audience, and her installations act as a vehicle to translate two- dimensional drawings into monumental landscapes.
Iqbal’s work provocatively explores notions of womanhood, courage, liberation and power. She experiments with themes regarding the course of integration, assimilation and separation experienced by migrants living in Australia, and investigates issues faced by underprivileged children in developing countries. Her work is a web woven out of people’s stories, and it explores issues that shape one’s life. Through her work, she tries to find the balance between the reality of life and its delicacy, events that shape us into who we are and what we may become. As an artist, she is highly concerned with the position of women and their contribution to a productive contemporary society.
Iqbal’s work takes its inspiration from clothing, human form, text, the natural environment, philosophy and Sufi poetry, particularly Rumi, Bullay Shah and Allama Iqbal’s work.
Awards and Achievements
Iqbal graduated with high distinction from UNSW Art and Design, majoring in Printmaking and being awarded the first “Victoria Marinov Award” for her innovative print series titled “recyclable souls”. She was the recipient of an Australian Muslim Women Art’s grant, a New York Artist League Scholarship, a Megalo Print residency scholarship and an Ian Potter Travel Grant.
Her work has been selected for various prestigious awards, namely, the International Emerging Artist Award, the Blake Prize, the Hobart Art Prize, the Fisher's Ghost Art Award and the Blacktown Art Prize . She was selected as a finalist in Paramor prize 2017. She has also carried out several successful residency programmes locally and internationally across Australia, the USA, Turkey and Pakistan.