Grief is like a wave that washes over you in the most unexpected ways. It knocks on your door when you least expect it and the thing about grief is that no one ever knows where to put it. Perhaps the most accurate thing written about grief in the last decade is this dialogue from Wanda Vision, “What is grief, if not love persevering?”
Grief leaves a space behind when we experience a loss and the best we can do is try to hold onto the memories. In an attempt to make sense of all the grief left behind after the loss of her mother, Mumbai-based artist Al-Qawi Nanavati started writing letters to her late mother – Mumtaz. The letters became a way to feel close to her and continue the conversation with her.
I started writing letters to my mother, Mumtaz, since the day she passed away. I had so much to say to her that was left unsaid. After three years, I still feel like I have only scratched the surface— Al-Qawi Nanavati (To Terrain Art)
Her collected body of work which is affectionately named Letters to My Mother is an assembly of materials, memories and murmurs. The resultant art is a series of crafted letters in secret scripts on repurposed pieces of her mother’s clothing, photographs, and other belongings. An exploration of creative methods and mediums, the collection is a blend of crochet, calligraphy and clay modelling, extending the scope of language and communication onto multiple surfaces.
“I want to understand loss throughout history, the implications of loss, how it manifests within others too, how one nurtures and overcomes it, and how one can finally get themselves to accept it” says Nanavati.
Terrain Art who are behind the digital exhibition of Nanavati’s artistic collection describe it as– “The diversity of Nanavati’s artistic processes are built to prolong the intimacy she shared with her mother whilst healing from the grief of her absence. Art for her is a method of processing loss and finding a path towards acceptance.”
You can have a look at Letters to My Mother here.
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