Posted: 7th August 2020
Natasha Monfared is a Hull-based artist who draws inspiration from her Iranian heritage, using her work to address issues facing women in Iran. Monfared’s work Veiled Volleyball was exhibited in Ferens Art Gallery’s 2020 Open exhibition. The digital print demonstrates the ongoing issue of female participation in sports. In Iran, volleyball became increasingly popular, which led to the banning of women watching it in stadiums. This work places women not only inside the stadium, but actually on the pitch as veiled figures taking the place of the opposing team.
Ferens: What three words would you use to summarise your photography?
NM: Political, feminist, empowerment.
Ferens: What themes or ideas are you currently exploring in your practice?
NM: My practice revolves around the political position of women in Iran and their constant resistance against restrictive laws, such as the compulsory veil and the ban on attending sports stadiums. I create collages and sculptural installations that comment on these issues to keep them in the public eye. Acting as a voice for these women who lack freedom of speech, I raise awareness of a fleeting moment of protest caught in the media.
Ferens: Your work in the 2020 Open ‘Veiled Volleyball’ demonstrates the ongoing issue of female participation in sports, particularly in Iran. What led you to explore this subject? And what, if anything, do you hope people take away from your work?
NM: As volleyball grew more and more popular, women were banned from attending the live matches. When this came to my attention, I wanted to create something that combined the topic with interesting imagery. Veiled Volleyball places women not only inside the stadium, but actually on the pitch as sinister veiled figures taking the place of the opposing team.
I hope people leave my work feeling they have more awareness of the events happening elsewhere.
Ferens: How has your practice changed since lockdown?
NM: I have actually found it really difficult to create in lockdown! I think because the majority of my work is sculpture based, it’s been hard to get materials I would need to make work. I’ve found that I turned to creating collages using old family photographs – they’re quick to make and it keeps me stimulated when I’m unable to make work directly related to my practice.
I’ve been keeping a sketchbook of ideas and I scribble down quotes or themes that I’d like to explore. I recently read Masih Alinejad’s “The Wind in my Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran”, which gave me the nudge I needed to get creative again.
Ferens: What gallery, museum or cultural venue are you most excited to visit when it reopens?
NM: Ferens, of course! Definitely Nottingham Contemporary and the New Art Exchange too.
You can also find more of the artist’s work via the links below:
Copyright for all artwork images remains with the Artist.