This collection features documents from the personal archive of the Baroda-based artist Nilima Sheikh (b. 1945). It forms part of AAA’s ongoing initiative to build archival collections and resources around the histories of women in art. It also contributes to AAA’s efforts to explore the continued relevance of “living traditions” in contemporary artistic practice—one that emerged as a significant movement in the history of modern Indian art, of which Nilima Sheikh was an integral part. The collection highlights the complex geographies of Asia through Sheikh’s over four decades of engagement with questions of nation, cosmopolitanism, and histories of displacement and migration—such as her work on Kashmir, the Silk Road, and the partition of the subcontinent. Sheikh has built an extensive archive of visual and textual references for her work, including Turkish, Persian, and Indian manuscript painting; scroll and mural paintings from China and Japan; and writers and poets dealing with issues of home, belonging, identity, and exile, such as Lal Ded, Mahmoud Darwish, Agha Shahid Ali, Amitav Ghosh, and Li Bai.

This collection from Sheikh’s archive focuses on documents primarily from the 1980s to 2000s, a crucial component of which includes her research and travels to study and document “traditional” or “historical” art forms. These include materials from her 1980s research on the Pichhavai paintings of Nathdwara, Rajasthan, India; writings and correspondences relating to her trip to China in 1990; and her large archive of stencils and their relevant visual and textual sources, which she has collected since 2000. The collection will also focus on the collaborative nature of her feminist practice, including looking at her work in theatre design between 1989 and 2001, and documents pertaining to the Four Women Artists group which exhibited between 1987 and 1989.

The collection opens up several areas of research, including but not limited to histories of the intersection of art, craft, and design; feminist cultural practice in Asia; and the later phase of the “Living Traditions of Indian Art” movement.


The project team for the Nilima Sheikh Archive includes:

Lead Researcher: Sneha Ragavan

Project Researcher: Rashmimala Devi

Collections Assistant: Pallavi Arora

Collections Coordinator: Gabrielle Chan

Collections Intern: Anshu Jakhar

Photography: Nikhil K. C.

Sponsor: Cecilia Morelli-Parikh and the Thapar Public Charitable Trust


With support from the Collection Team:

Collection Manager: Chia-Han Chou

Collection Coordinator: Wan Chi Siu

Collection Assistants: Samantha Chao, Lydia Lam, Linda Lee, and Charlotte Mui


People / Organisation

40 Folders, 652 Records