Healing Through her Art

  • Kashmir Ink
  • Publish Date: Oct 4 2017 10:45PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Oct 4 2017 10:46PM
Healing Through her Art

“Art helped me heal; it could help others as well’


It’s 6 on a Saturday evening and Uzma Nawchoo is surrounded by a group of people in her studio, trying to mould clay in different shapes. Uzma, a Kashmiri artist and “art therapist” based in Delhi, is passionate about teaching art and uses it for curing mental health and stress-related problems. Her art has been showcased at Dilli Haat and the Jawahar Lal Nehru University in Delhi.

Uzma’s techniques are rather unique – she paints with both hands simultaneously, a skill particularly useful for drawing mirror images. Her art is not for the galleries. She believes in displaying her art to ordinary people. “I make my art look very unconventional and raw. It should be open to all. This is the reason why I don’t get my paintings framed.”

Born and brought up in Kashmir, Uzma went to medical school in Iran. “I would paint and sketch even while I was studying medicine. For sometime, I juggled art and medicine. After three years, I decided to give up on medicine and returned to Kashmir. It took me a while to convince my parents but they eventually they yielded to wishes.”

She moved to Delhi in 2006 and did her bachelors in apparel design and visual art from JD Institute of Fashion Technology. In 2010, she went to Dubai and stayed there for three years. “I did private exhibitions there but I never commercialised my art.”

In 2013, she opened the Atelier UZ clothes store on the Bund at Lal Chowk, Srinagar. But the political uncertainty forced her to close it down after only nine months. She then shifted back to Delhi. “After my store was closed, I went through a bout of mental stress. I didn’t know how to go about my career. I became a recluse.”

Art came to her rescue. She took top painting again and started learning about art therapy.“Art helped me heal. And I realised if it helped me, it could help others as well. Until then I didn’t know there was something called Art therapy’.”

The unrest of the 2016 in Kashmir affected her deeply. “I had exhibited a series of ten paintings on ‘women of war’ at JNU. After the uprising, I again picked up that theme, painting women who stand in windows when funeral processions or protestsare taking place.”

The series titled “Daren Pyeth” depicts the whirlwind of emotions women in a conflict zone go through. “If you Google Kashmiri women, you will only get images of women in a mournful state. I decided to paint them in a manner so that when a non- Kashmiri looks at the painting, she is taken aback and gets curious about it. Usually, people outside Kashmir have a superfluous image of this place. I want to get them acquainted with the ground reality through my art.”

Uzma works as an art therapist with some schools in Gurgaon. She also holds art sessions with adults and children with special needs.“There are a lot of adults in Delhi who workin the corporate sector. They are under a lot of stress due to their 9-5 jobs. Spending 45 minutes with art gives them a vent to let out steam. I usually involve them in clay art. Clay is very therapeutic.”Uzma plans to conduct such art sessions in Kashmir.

Uzma, the tall dark-haired and large-eyed artist, enjoys travelling, shopping and listening to music, especially Kashmiri folk music and 60s rock. She is fond of rings and wears them every time she paints. “It might sound crazy but when I am not wearing a ring, I feel incomplete and fail to progress in my painting.”