Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora

Mitti Di Khushboo (the smell of the land)

Mitti di Khushboo is a body of work that chronicles thestories of migration of Boora's family from Panjab to Birmingham through a series ofportraits, handwritten stories and old family photographs.

"The first time my mom met my dad was at Heathrow airport inthe late 1970's. More than once I've reflected on how different my life wouldhave been if they hadn't moved to England, or if the Empire hadn't colonised the landsof my ancestors and instead I had been born and raised in Panjab.

Having become a mother myself in 2016, the stories of my family and their roots are something that I felt a pressing need to record. And after the passing of my grandmother in April 2018, who was the cornerstone and matriarch of our family, I began the process of making Mitti di Khushboo.

In generations to come I want the memories and sacrifices ofour elders to be treasured and understood. That future generations come to understand the importance of migration and the sacrifices the first of our family made for us to have the life we live now.

It is the stories of our elder generations being born inIndia but migrating to England, the hard work and graft they put in here to make a life for their families, that I want to treasure. My mom worked in sewing factories and my dad as a taxi driver, before owning a cornershop newsagents, which they still run to this day.

And I know this isn't just the story of my family, but one that echoes throughout migrant communities, whose families are trying to give their children a better chance to thrive." - Jaskirt 2021

Dhaliwal-Boora is currently working to make this series of work into a book.

Blast! Commission

Mitti di Khushboo was commissioned for the Blast! Photography Festival 2019 by Multistory.

In early 2018 Jaskirt first met Multistory director Emma Chetcuti, and not long after Emma offered Jaskirt the opportunity to make this work for Blast! 

Shooting on medium format, with her Mamiya RZ67, Jaskirt travelled to the different homes of her family to shoot the work with her travelling studio. Being pregnant when she started this work in 2018, her family was of immense help in ensuring the completion of this work for the exhibition. Not just through their participation and sharing of stories, but they also helped to carry and set up equipment and this work wouldn't have been possible without their full support. 

The exhibition ran during the Blast! Photography festival, from Friday 24 May – Saturday 29 June 2019. 


The launch party of the exhibition at Lightwoods House and Park, Bearwood. Filmed by Amritpal Sidhu

Special thanks to...

Emma Chetcuti, director of Multistory, and who on the first time of meeting with her, offered me the chance to make this work for the Blast! festival. I'm so grateful for her faith and support in my work. 

The Multistory team, especially Jenny Moore,  project manager of Blast! Festival and my work. Her understanding and sensibility working with me with a new born was something I will always be grateful for. 

Anneka French, for all her hard work, dedication and creativity in curating the show and making it all come together.

Keith Dodds for designing the story panels in the exhibition.

And of course all of my family who helped set up lights, carry equipment, write stories and find old photographs for me.  

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