'Somewhere Between Prayer and Agenda', Cara Nahaul

Men dressed in white kneeling in prayer

2009, Oil on canvas, 160 x 200 cm

Artist's statement

My practice is principally centred on the issues of cultural memory, race and hybridity. Greatly informed by my background of mixed cultures, it explores the tension inherent between alien-ness and belonging and questions how truthfully or objectively I can represent a given group of people. Coming from two diverse minorities, I have often identified with the alien that we are accustomed to seeing in films and reading about in literature.

This sense of alienation has been the source of my creativity. What I seek to explore in my paintings is the construction of images within the documentary form. The paintings are based on stills taken from a documentary that aimed to uncover fundamentalist preaching in British mosques. The prayer scenes shown in the film were simply that, as opposed to a method of encouraging new Islamic fundamentalists. My paintings are borne out of distrust for these images and a desire to reclaim some honesty from the documentary.

It is this often unfair discrepancy between actuality and perception which is the main objective of my practice. My intention is to try and disturb the certainty with which our determinations of reality are made.


Born in St. Albans in 1987, Cara Nahaul studied at Goldsmiths, University of London 2006-09. Her exhibitions include 'Curiosophy' Red Gate Gallery London 2008, 'Circuit Wisely' Shoreditch Town Hall London 2008, 'FringeMK' Project Space 1 Milton Keynes 2009, 'X presents... Heart of Dixie UK' 53 High Street Romford 2009, 'National Open Art Competition' (chaired by Gavin Turk) Minerva Theatre Chichester 2009 (winner, Heart of England Regional Prize), 'London Vox' Red Gate Gallery 2010 and 'Silent City' The Rag Factory London 2010. She is a founder member of the collective Silent City.