She was born into a culturally rich family in Chittagong. Her fascination towards three-dimensional shapes came from watching her mother make dolls and houses out of mud and everyday objects, from a young age.
She studied at the Camberwell School of Arts in London as well as in Florence. Her knowledge about sculptures was based on a combination of western ideas and folk traditions.
Her distinctive works are inspired by western, folk, indigenous, and Buddhist themes to reflect the experiences of women. In 1962, she travelled to Bombay to learn Bharatanatyam, and a year later, she moved to Paris, where she remained for the rest of her life. She lived in Thailand from 1968 to 1970, and held her second solo exhibition in Bangkok’s Alliance Française in 1970. At the time, she worked with remains from plane crashes of American aeroplanes from the Vietnam War.
The essay compilation, Novera, published by Bengal Publications and edited by journalist and poet Abul Hasnat, presents Novera Ahmed from the perspectives of different writers.
Art historian and researcher Rezaul Karim Sumon mentions in his essay that Novera Ahmed’s first solo show, Inner Gaze, held in 1960, was the first exhibition of its kind, featuring mainly cement works, in Pakistan. It was widely appreciated by art enthusiasts. According to a feature in Dainik Azad, at the time, Pakistan’s Lieutenant Governor was so impressed by her work that he announced a grant of BDT 10,000 for her. With 75 artworks, the exhibition ran for 10 days.
Novera Ahmed’s works were collected by several artistes, including poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911 – 1984), who later gave his collection to his daughter Salima Hashmi. In Forgotten Stories of Cross- Pollination, Hashmi states, “Novera Ahmed epitomised the women artists. I first encountered her prize-winning work, ‘The Child Philosopher’ at the National Exhibition in the Lahore Museum. For all of us at the NCA, her work and her commitment to sculpture were an inspiration.We would gape in awe when she made an appearance at a music concert or exhibition.” Moreover, Ana Islam’s book, Novera: Bibhuiye Swabhume, offers an intimate look into Novera Ahmed’s personal and artistic characteristics.