Zahra Khanum
A graduate of Fine Art at the University of Plymouth has received a prestigious award from the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN). 
Zahra Khanum, who graduated in 2023, won the CVAN Platform Graduate Award in recognition of her work exploring British and South Asian identities. 
Submitting part of the work that she showcased at the University’s Fine Art degree show last year, Zahra used her art to show the complexities of the culture and identities of women moving between Bangladesh and Britain.  
She had to submit a small selection of work in order to fit the award’s intimate space, and put forward a film (called Ma is calling home, exploring the feeling of displacement through the eyes of women) and large untitled oil painting of a woman looking straight at the viewer. 
Zahra Khanum installation
Zahra Khanum - Ma is calling home
As part of the award, she received a year’s bespoke mentorship and a £2,000 bursary to support the next stages of her artistic practice post-university.
Commenting on her success, Zahra reflects on the impact of studying in Plymouth.

Winning the award was unexpected I am still processing the joy it has brought me.

I love creating art and sharing what I do, and the graduate platform award was a really important learning experience as I got to connect with graduate artists from other universities too. My work reflected on the parallels between the rural landscapes of Devon and Bengal, exploring belonging, nostalgia and oceanic imagery to represent a journey between two identities and places.
Working and studying In Britain’s Ocean city heavily impacted my work as a person and artist through the workshops and plenty of creative facilities that were available to use – I loved studying here and am grateful for the opportunities it’s brought me.
Zahra Khanum, BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate 

Throughout her degree, Zahra worked fearlessly and creatively across video, performance and painting to explore questions of place and belonging through the experiences of diasporic women.

She was always a positive presence in the studio, determined to push her practice in new and exciting directions. The University of Plymouth's interdisciplinary Fine Art curriculum focuses on supporting artists like Zahra to experiment, to take risks, and to make work that connects individual and collective experience. We encourage artists to draw on and respond to the University's particular mix of creative arts, humanities, social sciences, and STEM subjects.

The University is very proud that Zahra's work has won the CVAN Platform Graduate Award. The Platform Graduate Award is an important way to support Fine Art graduates as they develop their careers.

Congratulations are also due to the other shortlisted graduate artists from Arts University Plymouth and Falmouth University who took part in the exhibition in September, without whom the Award would not have been possible. 

Angela PicciniAngela Piccini
Associate Professor in Fine Art

fine art degree show