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The New Art Gallery Walsall - ‘Too Rich a Soil’

Photograph: Jonny Bark

As part of our celebration of South Asian Heritage Month, we thought we’d take the opportunity to re-visit The New Art Gallery Walsall’s exhibition ‘Too Rich a Soil’.

The exhibition, a collaboration between the Gallery and GRAIN, an arts organisation dedicated to commissioning, facilitating and delivering ambitious, engaging and high-quality photography projects and exhibitions opened in November 2019 but was cut short as a result of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. It presented photographic work that dealt with the themes of identity and representation, from three British artists of South Asian descent, Maryam Wahid and Nilupa Yasmin both of whom were supported to create new work and Arpita Shah who showed selected works from the existing series ‘Purdah – The Sacred Cloth’ (2013).

Arpita Shah is a photographic artist based between Edinburgh and Eastbourne who explores the intersections of culture and identity. Maryam Wahid and Nilupa Yasmin are photographic artists based in Birmingham. Wahid’s practice explores multiculturalism and her identity as a British Pakistani Muslim woman and Yasmin has a keen interest in the notion of culture and self-identity.

The Gallery produced a video where both of the Midlands-based artists, Maryam Wahid and Nilupa Yasim, were interviewed about their work for the exhibition. The video can be streamed on The New Art Gallery Walsall’s YouTube channel.

And as part of The New Art Gallery Walsall's INSIGHTS series, artist Nilupa Yasmin explains why she started incorporating weaving into her lens-based practice and shares her weaving techniques in a YouTube video that can be streamed below.

Hannah Anderson, Exhibitions Co-ordinator at The New Art Gallery Walsall, said: “It was a pleasure to work with GRAIN to devise this exhibition, to present Arpita’s ‘Purdah’ series in Walsall and to support Maryam and Nilupa with the development of new work.

“Since the exhibition, it has been wonderful to witness further accomplishments of all three artists, especially during these unprecedented times. Arpita Shah was included in The Guardian’s article ‘Seven ground-breaking female photographers in pictures’ and was a finalist for the Eastern Eye ACTA awards. Maryam Wahid formed part of the selection panel with the Duchess of Cambridge for ‘Hold Still’ the National Portrait Gallery’s ambitious community project to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during the lockdown. Nilupa Yasmin has had work purchased The Government Art Collection and joins the team at the Gallery as an Artist Educator.”

More information on each of the artists and their work can be found on their individual websites:



I was strolling through Walsall's new art gallery, captivated by the art of art, when my eye fell on a photograph that changed my mood. The black and white painting had the beautiful words “i love you” written on it. This simple yet powerful expression of love in art made me smile and think about the meaning of love in art and life.

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