Kajal Nisha Patel

Kajal Nisha Patel Kajal Nisha a photographer and filmmaker in India and the UK. She holds a B.A. from Sheffield Hallam University, in Industrial Design with Cultural Studies

Kajal Nisha PatelTitle:

Photographer & Filmmaker


Twitter: @kajalnp
Email: kajal@kajalpatel.com
Web: www.kajalpatel.com
Tel: 07944 948 392


Kajal Nisha Patel works between the UK and India as a photographer and filmmaker. She holds a B.A. from Sheffield Hallam University, in Industrial Design with Cultural Studies.

After graduation, she worked as a Project Manager in the environmental, charity sector, organising eco-funerals. In 2006, Kajal turned her attention towards Photography. She was Photographer in Residence at Indicorps NGO, Gujarat; India, for a period of one year. During her residency, Kajal documented women and child ‘ragpickers’ as they struggled to survive in a crowded metropolitan slum, following a move from rural villages. Kajal’s experience in India motivated her to start several community arts projects, during which she used her documentary images as a catalyst to inspire young children to engage in creative writing and visual storytelling.

Since 2006, she has documented the British South Asian experience, concentrating on issues around cultural conflict and bereavement, assimilation and the formation of new identities. She is researching colonial and postcolonial histories of the British Raj and its legacy of Indian economic trade.

In January 2015, Kajal carried out a commission from City Arts, Nottingham. The work aimed to highlight the decline of industries such as coal-mining and textiles production in the area surrounding Chesterfield. In July 2015, Kajal produced a series of short films with a focus on industrial strike action within Leicestershire’s garment industry. This work was commissioned by The Loughborough University’s Department of Politics, History & International Relations, for the Loughborough History and Heritage Network.

Research Summary:

During her placement as Leverhulme Artist in Residence, Kajal will develop her research on British South Asian women’s working and domestic lives. The project will focus on women who arrived from the Indian subcontinent during the 1970’s and have spent their working lives in Britain’s textiles/hosiery industry. The difficulties this generation faced will be explored in contrast with the experiences of a younger generation of women who are guided by their parents’ generation yet strive to identify a position in a society with evolving cultural values. Photography of the communities she represents is typically framed around identity politics and familiar ethnographic narratives. These have the effect of collectivising communities while overlooking personal perspectives and inherent contradictions. Through academic support and critical engagement, Kajal’s work during the residency will aim to expose intricacies and complexities via rigorous enquiry and multiple visual approaches.


Kajal is the founder member of Lightseekers social enterprise, which uses photography and storytelling as a platform to learn about and engage with key social issues. It is a cross-cultural education project, which delivers workshops to low-income areas.

Selected Commissions:

Loughborough University: Department of Politics, History & International Relations
“Asian Women: Work & Struggle”. Series of photo-films, profiling the 1972 Mansfield Hosiery Mills Asian workers strikes for equal pay. Jun - Dec 2015

City Arts, Nottingham: “Portrait”. Documenting industrial decline in the areas surrounding Chesterfield. Feb - Apr 2015

The Racial Equality Council: “What Do You See When You Look at Me”.
A series of portraits aimed to dispel visual stereotypes. Jun - Jul 2014


The Leverhulme Trust: Artist in Residence, March 2016 - Dec 2016
Indicorps NGO, Gujarat, India: Photographer in Residence, Aug 2006 - May 2007

Selected Exhibitions:

The Portrait Salon, Reminders Photography Stronghold, Sumida Tokyo, Japan, Feb 2016
The Impact of Diasporas, Royal Geographical Society, Leverhulme, Oxford University, Sep 2015
Doh Mix Meh Up, OFS Arts, Oxford University, Nov 2014
100 Images of Migration, School of Museum Studies, Leicester, May 2014
Photographic Thinking, TEDx AshokaU exchange, San Diego - Mar 2013
Flight to Greenham, Greenham Common Arts, Newbury, Nov 2012
Satyaprakash, Seva Café, Ahmedabad, India, May 2007

Selected Awards:

Leverhulme Artist in Residence, University of Leicester, 2016
Big Lottery Fund, Lightseekers - UK, Connecting Cultures, 2014
The Sandergram Project, Artist Rooms, Tate Gallery/New Walk Museum, Winner, 2013
Heritage Lottery Fund, Trading Spaces, All Our Stories, Grant, 2012
Nesta, New Art Exchange, Culture Cloud, Finalist, 2012
Gammelgaard Monochrome, Copenhagen, Lightseekers - India, Grant, 2012
Arts Council England, Lightseekers, Grant, 2009

Full list of Exhibitions, Awards and Grants (pdf)


Doh Mix Meh Up:

Featured Artist. Diaspora and Identity in Art, Eds. Jane Garnett, Sunil Shah, Oxford Diasporas Programme, Oxford University, Leverhulme, Sep 2015.

Television, Press & Media:

The Guardian, The Economist, The Independent, British Journal of Photography, BBC World News, Buzzfeed, Outlook India, BBC East Midlands Today, BBC Radio Leicester/Notts/London

Artist Talks/Lectures/Interviews:

Ravensbourne Lates: The Royal Photographic Society, Ravensbourne College, Greenwich. May 2015
The Migration Museum, Somerset House, London. Sep 2014
The Eye Festival, Aberystwyth. Jun 2014
Innovate Podcast: Ideas Unbound. Photography & Cross Cultural Civic Engagement. May 2014
Portrait Salon, FUSE Arts Space, Bradford, Oct 2013
Gammelgaard Kunst & Kultur Centre, Herlev, Copenhagen, Sep 2011


Leicester New Walk Museum, Several private collections


BA (Hons) Cultural Studies & Industrial Design, Sheffield Hallam University, 2001

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