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Cara Nahaul

Hidden Creatives: Cara Nahaul

Published: 24 November 2022
Filed under: Arts and culture

Hidden Creatives is a portrait exhibition which explores the creative diversity in the Blackhorse Lane Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) (Link to CEZ page). For this project photographer, Andy Donohoe was tasked with exploring the different corners of the district to find creatives which demonstrated the broad mix of practices and technical backgrounds. The images have been printed in large format and have been exhibited throughout the CEZ in public places. 

Cara Nahaul: Artist Use google maps to find where the portrait is located
Twitter: @carazlina 

Ever since I got my first watercolour set as a child, I’ve loved painting. But it wasn't until my art foundation course at Wimbledon College of Art that I realised I wanted to become a painter. I went to Goldsmiths University afterwards for my undergraduate degree, and then received a scholarship to study in the US. I moved to New York for two years to do a master’s in fine art and subsequently moved back to London. During all my studies I briefly tried other mediums, but painting was the only language which gave me the total freedom to explore the ideas I care most about. 

I moved to Blackhorse Lane Studios just after the start of the first lockdown in Spring 2020. At the time I was also living in Walthamstow, and so it felt like a natural fit to be part of the community there. I have friends who work in the wood and metal workshop nearby, as well as other neighbouring studios. I also feel lucky to be within a very short walking distance to the wetlands when I need to stretch my legs after a long painting session. 

I think Blackhorse Lane has a lot of potential to grow, but hopefully in a steady way that maintains its distinctness, which is what continues to draw artists and other creatives to the area. 

It wasn’t until I settled into my current studio that I really understood how valuable the space where you work is. I had been on the waiting list to join Blackhorse Lane Studios for some time, and couldn’t believe my luck when I was offered my studio space. It has large windows on two sides of the room, as well as large built-in desks with generous storage. As well as painting, I’m able to work on lots of drawings and other projects at the same time. I feel very comfortable there, and enjoy welcoming friends and visitors for tea and studio visits. 

It’s interesting to think about this as each time I walk to my studio I observe the number of new-build apartments appearing around the area at such a fast pace, and I wonder what the impact will be on artists who already live and work there. Whilst I acknowledge the need for development, there needs to be an understanding of how it directly affects the creative industry, in particular the availability of affordable creative work spaces. 

It’s important to recognise just how much creatives contribute to the local area, such as strengthening the sense of community and bringing about opportunities for people to be enterprising. Artists are small business owners too. What I would like to see are real efforts to create conditions where artists and creatives can grow alongside the development, rather than be eroded by it.