Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

© Asian Media Group - 2024


Chila Burman


CHILA BURMAN is flying high – literally. British Airways have commissioned her to paint a 787 Dreamliner aircraft in her characteristically colourful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the airline’s operations to India. Today, she is probably the busiest British Asian artist in the country. Her work has long been collected by museums and private art lovers all over the world. And this year the Tate is publishing a thick volume on Chila’s work. But behind her success lies nearly 50 years of hard work. Speaking to GG2 Power List at her studio in Hackney in East London, she acknowledged: “I am now definitely treated more as an artist because I’ve made it but I don’t know about the others.”

However, watching her progress in the very competitive art world, it does seem many young Asian women have been inspired by Chila. The government certainly considers Chila to be a role model for what diversity has achieved for Britain. The word, “GREAT”, was emblazoned on the side of her sparkly ice-cream van the government displayed in Doha during the football world cup in 2022. Chila’s trademark tiger on top of the vehicle was a throwback to the days of her late father, Bachan Singh Burman, a Punjabi Hindu, who came over from Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1954. He sold ice-cream from a van which had a model of a tiger on top. His daughter is now known for her tiger fashioned with a variety of neon lights. Chila was born in Bootle, near Liverpool, in 1957, attended Bootle’s Girl Grammar School, and switched at 13 to Waterloo Park Grammar School for Girls, where a teacher encouraged her after spotting her talent for art. She knew it was risky but she took up art as a career nearly 50 years

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