Sancintya Mohini Simpson


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Sancintya Mohini Simpson, Jahajin, 2021, Watercolour and gouache on handmade wasli paper, 63 x 88 cm each  (9 parts). Courtesy of the artist. Art Jameel Collection

Artwork Details


Sancintya Mohini Simpson






Watercolour and gouache on handmade wasli paper


63 x 88 cm each, 9 parts

Credit Line

Art Jameel Collection

Work Description

Gender issues permeate all aspects of agriculture. Throughout the world, women constitute 47% of those engaged in agriculture, both as farmers and as farm workers, in addition to playing a crucial role in ensuring household food security. However, they often face obstacles in access to land and other natural resources, to formal employment, and to credit and training. These obstacles stem from discriminatory norms and entrenched socio-cultural practices and histories, and entail negative consequences not only for women themselves, but also for their family members, especially in the case of female-headed households. 

From the late nineteenth century through to the the early twentieth century, indentured female labourers were taken from India to Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) to work on sugar plantations. Simpson’s work translates the experience of her maternal ancestors as well as stories gleaned through archival research. The large-scale corrugated iron structure mimics those inhabited by workers on the plantations. The moving imagery shows a sugar cane field, with a red-tinted sky similar to hand coloured colonial postcards. In the background her mother sings the Bhojpuri folk song (with words borrowed from South African Tamil) stemming from the early period of indentured labour from India, describing how people were given the name ‘coolie’ by their colonial captors rather than choosing it. The watercolours depict the lives and stories of resilience of these women workers in the plantations’ fields.

Artist Biography

Sancintya Mohini Simpson (b.1991, Brisbane, Australia)  is an artist and researcher whose work navigates the complexities of migration,  memory and trauma through addressing gaps and silences within the colonial archive. Her recent solo exhibitions include: Milani Gallery, Brisbane (2020); Institute of Modern Art Belltower, Brisbane (2020); Firstdraft, Sydney (2020); Hobiennale, Hobart (2019) and, 1ShanthiRoad Studio Gallery, Bangalore (2019). In 2021 Simpson’s work was screened at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Her work has also been exhibited at Canberra Contemporary Art Space,  Canberra (2021); QUT Art Museum, Brisbane (2021); Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2021) and Constance ARI X  MONA FOMA, Hobart (2021), among many. Simpson’s work is held in the collections of KADIST, Museum of  Contemporary Art, UQ Art Museum and Museum of Brisbane.