Parked next to weathered ironing boards, a mountain of scrap metal in a shopping trolley is topped by a precariously balanced barbecue lid. ‘The amazing mobile bbq with full laundry services,’ says one comment left on Tash Kahn’s Instagram.

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A post shared by Tash Kahn (@thisladypaints) on

Kahn explains how, on finding the trolley, she was “struck by how curated it looked and how thoughtfully the components had been put together, almost like an accidental piece of public art. There is a lot of humour in that pile of stuff, which I like.”

She continues: “I always search out things that make me smile, and if by posting it on social media I can make someone else smile too, then I have achieved something.”

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Kahn’s @thisladypaints Instagram is primarily known for a typology of wheelie bins (Rubbish Story), left behind fag ends (#deadsmokes), greenery poking out of dirty pavements (#greentakeback) and things her son gives her to hold (#thingsmysongivesmetohold).

Dirt and the mundane disrupt the perception that Instagram is supposedly for the beautiful and the polished; rubbish can be ‘carefully curated’, too.

Kahn’s visual style is so well recognised that, she says, “I get sent pictures in return: ‘I saw this and thought of you’ for instance. It is great that people suddenly start to notice the mundane just because I have posted a picture of a pile of rubbish on Instagram.”

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#cigarettes #deadsmokes

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London, where Kahn is based, is usually the featured backdrop to her posts, and is also where she runs DOLPH with fellow artist Paul Cole.

As a project space, DOLPH asks artists to exhibit the hidden or unseen parts of their practice. Its Instagram account is mainly run by Kahn and documents the installation of the shows in the space, revealing what is happening at the gallery and enticing people to visit or attend workshops and talks.

Kahn admits: “Instagram is ostensibly a promotional tool. However, I use it to document and collate my work as well. For the two collaborative projects I am doing with Stefan Riebel and Philip Newcombe, Instagram is used purely as a virtual space in which we can respond to each other visually.”

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July 2018 london

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With Berlin-based Riebel, Kahn shares found text, often within an urban environment, on @texting_you_into_something; her work with Newcombe for @tkpnfieldrecordings is described as “a kind of visual finger tennis between myself and Philip”.

I ask Kahn about the differences between how she displays work on Instagram and what she would display in a gallery. She says that as a space Instagram is “more raw and less slick. I use it as a space to experiment and I never censor myself.”

She adds: “It is all pure unadulterated Tash – or Trash if you prefer.”

Tash Kahn @thisladypaints

a-n Writer Development Programme

Laura Davidson is a writer based in London. He is one of eight a-n members selected for the a-n Writer Development Programme 2017-18. For more information on the writer programme, and to read more of the 2017-18 cohort’s work, visit the 2017-18 programme’s blog on or use the a-n writer development programme 2017-18 tag

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