Time for a British Tamil Revolution; Meet Mathushaa Sagthidas
Mathushaa Sagthidas is a British photographer whose Tamil Eelam ethnicity and Sri Lankan background have catapulted her to the front of a new awakening in British photography that celebrates and honours difference. In Sagthidas' case, her creativity revolves around her identity as a Tamil woman who was born and raised in London, and by showcasing her heritage that has been passed down from her parents' stories of what "home" is, it has impacted her photography deeply and allowed it to evolve beyond borders.
Sagthidas explores various aspects of South Asian culture majorly through her love for fashion, which she has a diploma in. Her ability to capture this new-gen Tamil cultural crossover has created an online space for South Asians where multiple projects focalise traditional South Asian clothing and jewellery whilst featuring South Asian models and artists — representation that she rarely saw during her study of fashion and photography at UAL. Sagthidas wants authentic representation for her community and is tackling the Eurocentric beauty standards that hold people of colour hostage. She highlights dark skin and captures natural skin with acne through her models which is refreshing and pushes the mental boundaries of what society thinks beauty should be confined to.
'Photography is a visual representation that gives you the ability to see parts of who you are in various spaces and places with the feeling that you are being recognised', says Sagthidas, something that she didn't get much as a child. Her need to re-discover, re-learn and reminisce about her culture and childhood stems from intergenerational trauma rooted in the Sri Lankan civil war, which spanned from 1983 to 2009. It was something that as a child, Sagthidas didn't have much of an understanding of but she could still grasp the terrible notion that "home" was a place full of destruction and it became a mentally-barren place that she did not wish to visit — that is until 2020 when Sagthidas began to create some very sentimental projects with her mum.
Working with her mother over the pandemic for her final major project at university has been the fuel for Sagthidas' complex photography. Not just her aid in creative direction, her mum became a collaborative source in the process which pushed her to integrate handcrafted elements through styling, prop-making and theatrical settings, also tuning in her fine art skills. She mentions that working with her mother and other incredible South Asian women has truly helped bring her projects to life, whether it be celebrating South Asian hair, dark skin representation, Tamil beauty or heritage.
Mathushaa Sagthidas' work is nothing short of inspiring and deeply enriched in so much history, culture, tradition and skill. Having been featured across Graduate Fashion Week, Fashion Scout, Anisha Parmar London, MESA Magazine, Asian Woman Festival and more, she is a photographer that is soon to be on everyone's radar and we, at Thawra, can't wait! Mathushaa Sagthidas interviewed by Asia Khatun
You can follow and support Mathushaa’s work here:
Mathushaa Sagthidas @mathuxphotos
Words, Concept & Creative Directors
Semira Badesha @semirabadesha
Mathushaa Sagthidas @mathuxphotos
Camila Bañol Montoya @calling4camilaa
Anisha Parmar London @anishaparmarlondon