Artist Statement: Mehwish Iqbal : Surface[s]

My current body of work is an extension of my previous research, however its primary focus is to excavate the plethora of forced divisions, social barriers, “no entry, no exit zones” and refugee diaspora experiencing make shift existence on the peripheries of alien territories. My exploration particularly focuses on the historical aspects of World War 2 in nexus to present world geopolitical scenarios; the Middle Eastern conflict fuelling exodus of masses, alteration of individual and collective identity, and the impact of the Berlin Wall on society at large. The research also involves studying the human condition of individuals living the harsh reality of Ilaqa Ghair in Pakistan and offshore detention centers in Australia.

The work has spurred through close interaction and artist workshops with diverse refugee communities from Australia, essentially inspiring me to generate a discourse that underlines an unbiased position. As an artist I feel this body of work is highly significant and relevant to the world we live in today. It addresses some crucial questions regarding the policy of “divisions”, its impact and exploitation of human agency, as well as the fragility and complexity of life through the matrix of power play.

- Mehwish Iqbal


Mehwish Iqbal works across painting, printmaking, textiles, ceramics, sculpture and installation art. Her work stands as a provocative exploration of womanhood, courage, liberation, and power. She experiments with various themes involving migration, the influx of refugees and migrant diaspora, monopoly of power-play, commodification of human agency, hybrid identities, unfolding fragile and the complex state of individuals.


Iqbal holds a Masters of Art from COFA, UNSW with High Distinction in Printmaking. She has participated in several prestigious residence programs including NARS Foundation NewYork, NewYork Artist League USA, Megalo Print Studio Australia, Halka Arts Projects Turkey, Bundanon Trust Australia and Blacktown Art Centre/ UNSW. She has been a finalist in many art awards and prizes including; Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize, Hobart Art Prize, Blake Prize, Fisher Ghost Art Award, Paramor Art Prize and International Emerging Artist Award. She has also been the recipient of Victoria Marinov Award UNSW, Ian Potter Travel Grant, Australia Arts Council Grant and Public Art Commission CoLABS.


Mehwish Iqbal has widely shown her work across Australia, Pakistan, USA, Turkey and Hong Kong. Her work is held in prestigious collections both locally and internationally. She has participated in Istanbul Contemporary, Hong Kong Art Central and Karachi Print Biennial and Sydney Contemporary Art Fair.