Seema Mattu


BA Fine Art, Central Saint Martin’s, Digital Art

What is your work about currently?

My work focuses very literally on the ethnic woman. In terms of my own experience I use the digital space in as a platform to discuss the ethnic self in regards to four aspects of minority: Caste, Gender, Sexuality and Race.

What does womanhood mean to you?

For me womanhood is sisterhood, it is the need to be hyper-vigilant and proving yourself. Being Indian, to be a woman is to be suppressed and overlooked.

What are your view on Feminisms?

I have always been somebody who has tried to move away from Feminism. Because I believe the ethos of feminism (equality between genders) is still very white. When people talk about feminism it’s only including white men and women. For me it’s very difficult because if race isn’t an issue it will be caste, if caste wasn’t an issue it will be gender, etc.

There are so many levels of oppression that feminism doesn’t address.

I hate when people say if you believe men and women should have equal rights then you’re a feminist. I have a problem with labeling yourself as a feminist and not actively supporting the movement. I feel like I am becoming much more of what a feminist is through my work. In the future I hope to own a gallery that only/mainly caters to to ethnic women (some white ppl are secretly brown)

My feminist icons are the Gulaab (Pink) Gang, they are an all indian women gang who all wear pink saris and take matters of how men treat them into their own hands. This is the type of feminism I can relate to.

How do your experiences as a woman influence your art?

The subject matter of my work is enriched with issues I face as a woman of colour. It would be difficult to move away from these facts. Specially when the market is so self aware. Even if it’s quite light hearted there’s still a seeded message in there that shouldn’t be underestimated. I find it very problematic when men make work about women, it’s the same as white artists making work about people of colour.

If I could change something about life in UK it would be the feeling of uncomfort. To get rid of what seems like even the littlest of things, like being able to freely listen to music in public that is a different language. I want diversity to be celebrated. I want people to acknowledge my culture. However just because a group of people are from the same country it doesn’t mean we are all the same if you consider issues of caste and colourism. My hope is to raise awareness of these issues.

What has been your experience as a woman in university?

There’s such small group of ethnic people in saint martin’s. so much so that I get excited when I see people of colour. It worries me thinking I might have been accepted into this university out of tokenism. But I’m very lucky to have a really good tutor who accepts the meaning of my work when I open up about it.

What piece of advice would you give to women planning on entering the creative industries?

I’m sure many if not all ethnic women go through a situation where their parent(s) don’t support their wish to continue their education in a more art-based field. I have first hand experience of this, and I can honestly say that if I didn’t do what I needed to do for myself I would always love in regret. So my advice to WOC in an Arts university would be to pursue your dreams and keep going with it, I’m certain it’ll be more rewarding than any other path you’re forced to go down. Always remember: you have a choice, and that choice matters.