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Photo of artwork by Rubbena Aurangzeb Tariq

Rubbena Aurangzeb Tariq

I was born and raised in Surrey and always stuck out, growing up in one of the only Muslim families in the area. My parents had moved over in the 60’s and my dad took on a run-down shop. I remember him telling me how he’d struggled with the cultural differences when he’d first started the business – someone asked him for dog food and he didn’t know what it was, so he relied on locals to tell him what they needed and he went out and got it, which turned out to be a good way of doing business.

We all pitched in and helped to run the shop, even though I had to go to a school about twenty miles away when I was eventually diagnosed as being deaf. Despite the late start and the frustration I experienced, I worked as hard as I could and I managed to get into St Martin’s to study Fine Art.

Photo of artwork by Rubbena Aurangzeb Tariq

My parents worried – they wanted me to stay nearby so they could look after me, then conceded that I could live with a Muslim family in London. I had this odd life, going to art school to learn about freedom of expression and about feminist art theory, but having to be home because they’d worry if I wasn’t back by seven. I was also struggling to learn sign language so I could follow interpreters at university and so it was a period of growing up in many ways.

The group critic at St Martin’s are notoriously harsh, but my sense of self-belief grew and I started to find a voice in painting and in sign language. I moved out, gaining ideas about how I viewed the world around me and how I wanted to be living and how that would come through in my art.

Photo of artwork by Rubbena Aurangzeb Tariq

My MA at Surrey focused on exploring the quest for identity I was on, creating a maze about psyche and a large box that reflected on the experience of deafness both by Deaf people and society.

As I continued to study and exhibit, my sense of a political and social consciousness continued to develop, along with my fascination with the internal and cultural self. Also, around this time, I started to meet more Deaf people through visiting interpreted gallery tours, which gave me a stronger sense of belonging within another community and I also got married, which added another layer of identity for me to embrace.

My fascination with the relationship between the mind and the image led me to volunteer in a psychiatric unit for Deaf people with the art therapy team and I trained as an art therapist alongside my work in the unit and also continued to exhibit and sell work.

Photo of artwork by Rubbena Aurangzeb Tariq

I became the manager of the Asian Deaf Women’s Association at the same time as I finished my art therapist training and took my studio in Isleworth. My work for the charity focused, and continues to focus on empowering women who are often cut off from all the strands of their nuanced identities in different ways. I’ve also worked with refugees where art is the only way they can articulate their experiences.

My artistic practice reflects this – the relationship between personal experience, professional practice and creative process remain very much interwoven and the artwork I produce remains fascinated by the relationships between the inner self and the cultural persona. I've been fortunate enough to have considerable support from the Arts Council in making installations about memory and marriage and to have exhibited consistently alongside my professional practice as a therapist.

I am continuing to enjoy that process of continually exploring, of teasing out new thoughts and stories; of perpetual discovery and I hope to keep taking people along with me for the journey.



Arts V Therapy



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