Camilla Dilshat is a sculptor and installation artist of Uyghur heritage who was born and lives in London (born 1998).
Her work explores how personal experiences shape a person's identity as a member of a diaspora while also making them feel lost and unsure of where they belong. She has faced misunderstandings from others about her ethnicity, which has made her feel invisible and unheard.
As a way of healing, she uses sculpture to explore her identity, memories, and imagined homelands. She is inspired by nostalgic images such as gourds, sunflower seeds, traditional window designs, and family experiences.
Her sculptures use bodily sensations to communicate in ways that words cannot. When she can't express herself in her Uyghur mother tongue, her sculptures help her to do so. She uses the interplay of comfort and discomfort in her body to guide her on a journey to find a new sense of belonging to her Uyghur heritage.
Camilla's sculptures are like living things that breathe and move. They represent different feelings in the body, such as fullness, satisfaction, suffocation, and emptiness. Large gourds are like stomachs, bodies, and mouths. They push out and take in doughy shapes.
The pieces blur the lines between what is considered home and what is considered unsettling. She uses materials such as fatty latex, severed ceramic tongues, hair, raw wool, and disturbing references to food to create small, intimate sculptures.
The work has a ritualistic and tactile quality that is similar to her mother's cooking. She rolls, squeezes, and dusts her sculptures with "flour" in a similar way. Sandy textures and dry branches give a strong sense of place, hinting at a homeland that now only exists in fleeting memories.
A deep connection to the process and materials of her work shows how comfort and discomfort can exist together in the experience of being a member of a diaspora.