West indian culture

Through carefully composed photographs, Mathushaa Sagthidas portrays Tamil culture, traditions and food

A desire to capture the many aspects of Tamil and South Asian culture informs much of Mathushaa’s handcraft work. “As Tamil women as well as other races in the South Asian community, we are often just put in this bubble of being only South Asian – which you cannot generalize,” she says. “There are so many races, cultures and lived experiences in the South Asian community. Her photography conveys this neglected multiplicity by emphasizing storytelling through her shots, inviting viewers to a choreographed but everyday look at individual perspectives.

that of Mathushaa Deepavali 2021 is a recent example of such a project, documenting the celebrations around the religious holiday. “The difference between Diwali and Deepavali is that Diwali is the five-day festival celebrated mainly in the northern states of India, while Deepavali is the four-day festival celebrated mainly in the southern states of India,” explains Mathushaa. Its food shoots released during this time are both mind-blowing and mouth-watering, with Tamil snacks like mutton rolls, vadai (dhal of white moong, onions and curry leaves fried like a donut) and pakoda (dhal of chickpeas, cumin and curry leaves mixed by hand and fried in small pieces) photographed against inviting backdrops.

In தின வாழ்த்துக்கள் Where Happy Tamil Women’s Day, the pictures often relate to Mathushaa’s mom. One photograph, in particular, presents an almost archival look at objects showing her mother’s journey so far: her Sri Lankan ID card, a UK university ID card, an ID photo and a jewel of her brother, “who helped and supported her when she came to the United Kingdom”, offered to Mathushaa. Here, her still lifes are enveloped in warmth and vibrancy, framed by fabrics – whose colors, she notes, often inspire the aesthetics of her work.

Like the rest of his portfolio, stories and emotional currents run through each of the works; “There is always a story,” says Mathushaa, “and that’s what I’m trying to capture. We look forward to seeing her unique stories featured in as many “great places and magazines” as possible in the future.

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