Jasleen Kaur on food

22.04.21. Internet

Jasleen Kaur is an artist, designer and maker, who graduated from the jewellery and metal course at the Royal College of Art in 2010. Since then her practice has encompassed pieces created for gallery spaces as well as work that is socially-engaged. She has described herself, rather intriguingly, as a ‘cobbler’.

Recently, she has created films and pieces of text investigating untold histories and notions of identity that are both personal – detailing her Sikh background from Glasgow – and, in some instances, to do with this nation’s colonial past.

And, more often that not, embedded in all this somewhere is food. In a commission for the Serpentine Gallery, entitled Everyday Resistance, Kaur worked collaboratively with children and mothers from The Portman Early Childhood Centre, based in London’s Edgware, and used the micro-politics of cooking and eating together to consider and respond to issues facing the local community.  Together they created the protest picnic blanket, pictured above.

This is art with a very real purpose.

As well as exhibiting in places such as MIMA in Middlesborough, the BALTIC Centre in Gateshead, and Glasgow’s Tramway, Kaur has also lectured at the RCA and Chelsea College of Arts.

In this episode we talk about: baking bread with mothers and children in a London Sure Start Centre; why the kitchen is a ‘site of resistance’; the part food played in her Sikh family and growing up in Glasgow; digging into history; feeling on the periphery; making bad jewellery; how her work has become more political over the years; ‘faking it’ as a product designer; oh, and we also find out who exactly does the cooking at home…

It’s a hugely personal, and frequently rather beautiful, chat.

Find out more about Jasleen Kaur

The Tala Curry Measure, created in 2013, saw Kaur briefly moonlight as a product designer. The graphics are by Hurricane Design.

This is a shot from the artist’s film, Balti, shot in 2014, which documents the daily process of cooking Langar in the kitchen of the Polloksheilds Sikh Temple in Glasgow.

Kaur graduated from the RCA with a project entitled, Lord Robert Napier. It featured a turban, tied by her father, on the head of the current Lord Robert Napier, whose great granddad was an army officer during the Anglo-Sikh Wars in Punjab.  Image: Rachel Louise Brown

More recently, Kaur has started writing. Be Like Teflon, published in 2019is a collection of conversations between women of Indian heritage living in the UK. (All images courtesy of the artist)