Pakistan-born and Manchester-based Nehal Aamir creates ceramics which are incredibly crafted works of art, often with expressive paintings that decorate and accentuate the fine work of her sculpting. “I started sculpting clay from a very young age from seeing my grandmother make doves out of clay,” Nehal tells It’s Nice That. “These memories have always stayed with me and have built a love for ceramics and its hands-on practice.” For Nehal, clay has become a medium with endless possibilities. It’s a way to transmute the experiences of the diverse community she comes from into physical art pieces. “I’m most excited to celebrate my heritage and showcase my identity through illustrations and patterns,” she explains. “It makes me happy when people are able to connect with my work by sharing their thoughts and experiences.” This open-arm approach to her audiences makes Nehal’s work feel all the more inviting. We are guided into her world with a gentle hand and consumed by Nehal’s renditions of the community she views as the core of her being.
When it comes to her process, Nehal explains that her “practice requires a lot of planning and designing, so it’s very important for me to sketch out my ideas. Drawing also gives me the freedom and leads to many exciting visuals which then I transfer onto my ceramic pieces.” It’s another form of unencumbered expression that Nehal has mastered, utilising the illustrative medium to stamp her own stories onto the ceramics. No physical piece by Nehal is left untouched by an interesting set of characters, or world, or a thought to ponder over. “Before I get onto creating a new piece, it’s important for me to gather my thoughts and ideas first by doing some research,” she adds. “I usually talk to people within my community by interviewing them about their life and experiences within the United Kingdom.”
Nehal is a natural listener. She appreciates the art of conversation and taking the stories of those around her with the respect they deserve. “I want to be able to give voices to people who feel like they are not able to, so this process gives me the knowledge I feel that needs to be embedded within my work,” she explains. It’s hard to grasp that Nehal is still in the early stages of her career, with a craft and process already so well-mastered. “I feel like my work is at an early stage and still developing, which is leading up to me finding my signature style,” she says. “I would say my work is inspired by the decorated trucks from Pakistan, as they were a huge part of my childhood growing up.” These references are prevalent throughout Nehal’s ceramics, as well as the aesthetics of Persian miniatures and visuals found in Islamic art. “I would say my work is heavily rooted from my past and the visuals from there,” the artist tells us.
In particular, Nehal recalls her project Place and Identity, a study on the community of Finsbury Park in North London. “The research aspect of this project was very fascinating as I got to learn a lot about how people were living their lives and how they felt living in London,” she notes. “This got me thinking about my experiences and made me realise that we are very alike, no matter where we come from.” The project entirely shifted Nehal’s perspective on life and art and helped her grow as an artist. “It gave me the opportunity to share people’s stories through creating visuals that celebrated togetherness,” she says proudly.
As for what’s next, we can’t wait to see how Nehal takes the ceramic world by storm. “In the near future, I hope to create new work that challenges me,” she tells us. “Mostly, I want to be more ambitious by scaling up my work and collaborating with other artists.”
Nehal Aamir: Fable of an unknown (Copyright © Nehal Aamir, 2021)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. He was part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.