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Meet: Nadeem Din-Gabisi

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Published date 19 November 2018

An alumnus of both Wimbledon (BA (Hons) Fine Art: Print & Time-based Media, 2016) and Chelsea (MA Fine Art, 2018), Nadeem Din-Gabisi is not someone to box himself in, describing himself as an ‘artist, writer, painter, poet, musician and film-maker’. It is this wide-breadth of skills that recently led to him winning the London Fields Brewery Bursary Scheme, which supports ‘artists pushing the boundaries of established practice.’ The prize is a year-long residency at Somerset House, culminating in a final show. We met up with him in his second week at Somerset House, to talk about his time at UAL and to find out more about his winning multimedia project, POOL.

Photo by Azraa Motala

Why did you choose to study Wimbledon and Chelsea?
It wasn’t my original intention to go to Wimbledon, I had started my undergrad at LCC doing sound art and it wasn’t for me. So I began to look at fine art courses at UAL, saw the print and time-based media one at Wimbledon and applied to transfer. I’m glad I did!

During my time at Wimbledon I visited Chelsea’s campus a lot to use the library, so had grown fond of and accustomed to the site. I wanted to focus on painting, (switching from a focus on film and sound) for my master’s degree and felt Chelsea was the place to do that.

Credit: Nadeem Din-Gabisi (Instagram: @nadeemdingabisi)

What is your fondest memory of UAL? And did your courses have an influence on the way you work and the work you produce now?
I had made a film where I compiled various photographs of my mother before I was born. The audio for this film was a series of excerpts from an interview I had with her, where she spoke about the images and the memories they evoked.
For the one and only time I have presented this film (in Wimbledon) I played the flute along to the audio, sonically commenting on the ebbs and flows of my mum’s life, adding a literally unseen presence (I placed myself in a room where I couldn’t be seen so the film and sound would envelop the audience and my body wouldn’t distract from it). It was the first performance I felt I broke ground with. I will do it again… in time.

Made lasting connections, the first time I remember speaking properly to and meeting my partner was in Wimbledon library! Although we didn’t start dating till after uni. She showed me an N’gugi Wa Thiong’o interview which was very endearing. Also, I met one of my best friends in Wimbledon.

Wimbledon has had the biggest impact on the way I work and produce now. Providing me with a confidence to work freely across multiple disciplines.
Allowing me the space to begin fearlessly experimenting with different approaches to art-making
Chelsea showed me I can make large-scale work, develop and explore my visual aesthetic.

Congratulations on winning the London Fields Brewery bursary! How did you find out about the bursary and what does it mean to you?
Thank you!
I received an email, as part of the Somerset house mailing list, was very excited by the sound/look of the residency. Filled out the application form, slowly over the course of some weeks and sent it off. I then went through the shortlisting, interview process and received an email one morning that said I was awarded the residency!
It means I can dedicate time and space to my practice, developing a focus that leads to more fulfilled output. I also look forward to becoming a part of the Somerset house studios community, meeting fellow artists, being mentored and whatever else comes from the residency!
It also means I can stop painting in my bedroom!

Credit: Nadeem Din-Gabisi (Instagram: @nadeemdingabisi)

Can you tell us about your project Pool?
POOL is a multimedia project examining a childhood marked by life-changing moments of trauma and happiness. It will look at the mental health issues and coping mechanisms of many young black men, born in inner and outer London, questioning why some swim, why some sink and others don’t even enter the pool. It will emerge as music, painting, film, installation and more…

What are your future plans for the project?
Well, other than finishing it. The aim is for it to be a truly holistic art piece and using this template as grounding to make other work that can fluidly evolve into many different forms. Imagine a multiple course meal, you have your favourite dishes within that meal but they all are a part of one fine dining experience…
So that means in physical terms, performing it in many different venues, screening it, putting it out there so all can access and experience Pool.

Selection of work from Nadeem’s MA degree show at Chelsea, from Instagram. Credit: Nadeem Din-Gabisi (Instagram: @nadeemdingabisi)

What advice would you give to students and graduates who want to make it as an artist?
I wouldn’t want to give one size fits all advice because people’s paths as persons are very different as are their paths as artists.
I’m going to deviate slightly and say making it as an artist shouldn’t be the sole driving force behind your creative output.
Ideally, the work we make, the lives we live as people should contribute to the betterment of people, whether that’s through joy, understanding, healing and other facets of being. The betterment (tangible or intangible) of people through art holds a much more important place in my paradigm than making it.

Follow Nadeem on Instagram

Thinking of doing another course? UAL Alumni receive a £1000 tuition fee discount for a master’s degree. Learn more about the progression discount.