I’m Zarina Bhimji and I am in my studio
at the moment and this is where I work. I think it took me a while to admit to myself
that I’m an artist. When I made my first film that’s when I
decided I wanted to marry my work. That’s what I decided. This is my camera. I use it to shoot in transparency and it’s a medium format camera. Without
this I wouldn’t be able to do any work. It’s my little baby.
It was really important to me to be technically independent because when I was a student it
was a territory that was not easily accessible, I felt.
Until I’ve processed the film and looked at my film on my lightbox, I always think
I’ve got nothing in it. I always think the trip is wasted, you know? And that’s probably
how I keep myself going. I do this sometimes when I’m tired. It’s
a lot easier. At the end of the shoot I sit on it because I think ‘thank god for that,
we’re finished!’ I wanted to show you these shoes. I bought
these when I was going to film in Africa. I thought these shoes might give me good luck.
I thought that these shoes were really interesting because I was interested in the idea of evidence
and the bottom of the shoes, if you took them under a microscope, perhaps you would discover
a different form of questions. Where it’s walked. Who it’s met. What
it did. This has been in my studio for a long time.
I took this photograph when I first made my trip to India.
I took this without knowing what I was doing. All I remember was he said to me: ‘can you
adopt me, can I come to England?’ But this photograph has taught me a lot because
of the way he’s standing. His eyes, his button-holes, give off what I call like a
‘puncture’, a moment of emotion. But it’s formal. And I think maybe that’s what my
work is about. Where is the emotion? Where is the physicality?
When he said ‘take me with you’, in a way I have. This was worn by my mum when she, I think, met my dad the first time. It’s, I think,
very old in the family. It reminds me of a certain moment in time.
It’s a different sensibility to paint on canvas. It’s not about the embroidery. It’s
about a certain kind of echo. The colour scheme in here is really interesting
and I think when I grade my films it’s been unconsciously without knowing partly inspired
by this sort of colouring. Can I show you something that I have from
my school days? Early school was a problem because I didn’t
speak English. I couldn’t read and write. I ended up in care in a children’s home
and that was where I really realised that I need to get my act together here, if I’m
going to survive. And so I just worked and worked and worked.
I remember my foster mother saying that you might not be able to go to university, but
you could do something with your hands. And I thought, you know, wow! So I believed in
that. I think that everybody should have equal access.
I sort of worry that the culture comes from one place. I feel that culture should be coming
from all sorts of voices. And I think when I’m feeling fed up of working I remind myself
why that is important.