Partou Zia was born in Tehran in 1958 and emigrated to London when she was twelve years old. She gained a PhD in Art History and moved to Cornwall, where she lived and worked until her death in 2008.
She mainly painted dream-like landscapes and domestic scenes and often incorporated into them her own figure – either clothed or nude. Her fascination with the spiritual was manifested through her paintings of overlooked corners in churches. She painted with thick layers of paint and free energetic brushstrokes.
‘Cedar Notes’ (2004) depicts a nude woman standing in a garden and writing. Zia was a writer as well as a painter and it is likely that this, like many of her other works, is a self-portrait. Unlike her surroundings, the central figure is drained of colour. In Zia’s works, different colours have different meanings – for example, she associated the colour yellow with spirituality. The fact that Zia’s self-portrait is monochrome may be a comment on her sense of isolation as an Asian female artist practising in South West England.