Talia Ramkilawan indian south african queer tapestry artist
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May 11, 2022
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Talia Ramkilawan weaves her own narrative

Talia Ramkilawan’s pastel tapestries are a healing process and a soft portrayal of love as a radical act against the violence South Asian womxn suffer from.

Born in Cape Town in 1996 and raised by her single mother in Nelspruit, Talia Ramkilawan is an interdisciplinary artist working with video, performance, installation, and above all, tapestry. Having returned to Cape Town in 2015 to major in sculpture at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Talia Ramkilawan discovered rug-hooking. Fascinated by the process in which she finds healing through its intimacy, she started working with wool and cloth on hessian for her creations.

Fiercely slutty women are at the center of many of her tapestries. Queer, Indian, and femmes, they are a representation of the intersection of Ramkilawan’s identities, an attempt to take back control of her own narrative. In these sceneries, they are free to love themselves and others, unafraid.

Tackling intergenerational trauma and trauma of displacement, her art takes place in a process of healing. Inspired by her identity and culture as a South Asian woman and her experience as such in South Africa, the tapestries are an affirmation, a statement.

She subverts a medium usually associated with women’s work, reappropriating it in this process of self-affirmation. “How do you finger girls with those”, “You’re hot af for an Indian girl”, the titles of many of her tapestries, reminding of handed compliments and derogatory comments, are part of this process of reappropriation.

With her first solo exhibit at the BKhz Gallery in Johannesburg, “Heart 4 Sale’, which took place last October, Talia Ramkilawan is definitely an artist to look out for. Scroll down below to discover some of her art pieces.


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