Street Level Photoworks logo

2024 marks 35 years of Photography, Participation + Production. Support us by making a donation here.

Off-Site Exhibition

Arpita Shah - Nalini


Arpita Shah - Nalini
12th April - 14th July 2024
Duff House, Banff AB45 3SX

Download Exhibition Minigraph Here

Please note: to view the exhibition during April you will need to purchase a ticket for a guided tour of Duff House, which will give you access to the exhibition at the end.

Artist Talk:  Arpita Shah in Conversation with Catriona McAra
2pm Saturday 4th May, Aberdeen Art Gallery
More information 

Spanning India, East Africa and the UK, Nalini explores the connected histories of Arpita Shah’s mother, her grandmother and herself. The exhibition reveals ancestral intimacies across space and time, and how their histories, memories and bodies are intertwined.

“My grandmother was born in India but grew up in Kenya for 12 years before moving back to India. Although I visit my grandmother every couple of years in India, I have realised how little I really know about what she was like as a young woman, her memories, experiences and what her relationships were like with her own mother and her daughter.” 

Nalini is a personal journey for Arpita Shah, which has allowed her to reconnect with the past through her maternal lineage and explore how migration, distance and loss have shaped their lives. Her photographic journey led to discoveries of old forgotten family photographs, shared and individual memories of objects, places, and family stories. The portraiture process itself physically connects the artist to her mother and grandmother, allowing her to visually explore how connected their lives really are.

The exhibition is titled after Shah’s grandmother, Nalini, a name that comes from the ancient Sanskrit word meaning ‘lotus’. Floral motifs are a recurrent feature in Shah’s work and this iconic plant symbolises purity, femininity and fertility in Hindu culture. The artist performs floral offerings to the women in her family, and some of her images feature symbolically significant flowers adorning old photographs from family albums. A passport photo of Shah’s great-grandmother is decorated by bougainvillea, a plant introduced to India and East Africa during the British Empire. 

Presented at Duff House in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, Nalini highlights the space as both a family home and a site of imperial legacy. Arpita’s journey is both an intimate reflection on family history and a shared experience of the imperial routes of migration that tie Scotland, India and Kenya together. 

Nalini allows us to shift the lens away from narratives of Scottish history that are dominated by wealthy white men, instead highlighting the diasporic histories of women of colour.

Arpita Shah is a photographic artist based in Eastbourne, UK. She works between photography and film, exploring the fields where culture and identity meet. As an India-born artist, Shah spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities.

She graduated from Napier University in Edinburgh in 2006. Her work has been exhibited across the UK and internationally, including at the Detroit Center of Contemporary Photography (2013); Tramway in Glasgow (2014); Chobi Mela IX in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2017); Autograph APB in London (2018) Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019) Impressions Gallery in Bradford (2020) and Centre for British Photography in London (2023).  She is the recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme in Syracuse NY and her work is held at the National Galleries of Scotland, Autograph ABP and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The development of work by Arpita was originally supported by Creative Scotland and Hope Scott Trust. 

A Street Level Photoworks touring exhibition 
presented at Duff House in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland

Opening Times:
Thursday to Sunday 10.45am - 3pm
Monday to Wednesday Closed

Images© Arpita Shah

Please tick next to the newsletters you would like to receive. The Street Level Photoworks newsletter will provide information on exhibitions, events, opportunities, courses, prints and publications. The News From Photography Networks newsletter will be sent from Photography Networks Scotland, a platform managed by Street Level Photoworks. For more information, please look over our Privacy Policy