Monday, January 30, 2017

Adrift

It was in 2010 that I last visited the island of Bintan, Indonesia. My memory of staying there in the villas, the relaxing time I had prior to an upcoming solo exhibition that year, is full of lovely beach and swimming memories. We visited again this long weekend, this being our fourth visit and this time too the company we had made the trip just so worthy of memories. Yet there was one dark patch.

I tried swimming in the beach waters and was thoroughly disgusted with the rubbish that was in the waters. Of the many previous visits I remember seeing fish swimming around us. This time however all that we had wrapped around our feet was a lot of wrappers, plastic bags and loads of plastic bits and pieces poking us. At one point I managed to move my son away, from a drift wood piece that had metal bits and nails stuck on it. It was just not funny how many plastic wrappers of chocolates, chips and other such garbage that were in the waters. I know I know, your response would be swim in the hotel pool. Well, I did not travel go to a beach resort to swim in their pool, when I can do that in the comfort of my residence.

I was saddened by what we humans are doing to the aquatic life and the planet. Our constant need for material goods, commodities and entertainment is costing the planet. I decided to not just write about it but do my bit with my son. While the beach cleaners of our resort very diligently cleaned the beach every morning for a few hours from the sea weed that came adrift, they did not seem to be interested in the garbage that come afloat. Along with my son and soon my husband joined us too, we stood in the waves and let the rubbish come to us and then collected them and put them, in the wheel barrows that the cleaners were collecting the rubbish in.

It was my wee bit of seva (service) that we could indulge in during the getaway. I did feel the Universe was sending me an important lesson. I spoke with my son about the choices we make. We did think carrying more home cooked food for the trips and the voyage would reduce a certain amount of plastic. These choices matter and making the younger ones aware of these choices also matter.  As an artist the irony of all this not lost on me. Yah I was not about to gather all the garbage to make a statement art piece or an installation out of it. It was more about what choices I make as an artist. No, I do not use disposable gloves for each artwork I make. We can’t call ourselves concerned and not look into the processes we involve ourselves in. It made me re- think of a lot of things I could do different and trust me those will go into effect as I type this note. However, I did not think my action on the beach went in vain. My son joined me in my effort and we had a discussion about our choices. My husband who was first amused and then bewildered at my actions soon joined me when I said “beach seva”, a true AOL person he is :D Lastly the cleaners realised that they should pick plastic and other rubbish too apart from the weed. Most importantly it just made me feel good about bringing alur dum and luchi for all of us, (a yum Bengali treat, unhealthy for normal days but holidays are for indulgences, so they make great voyage food) and the fact that it was devoured makes it have a repeat factor.



Monday, October 31, 2016

W/underland : Maya Bhalla's solo exhibition



My trip to W/underland was full of adventure. Yes, I met my Alice and she had big eyes all dilated and brown. She was in her denim shorts and hair tied up high, all set to put up memories of her W/underland. Maya Bhalla / Sohonie is what many of us call her.
I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, writing about her or the work. I’m taking the plunge and yes this will be a little personal. I first met her in 2008, her first show in Singapore, and she was showing her paintings, while I was covering her co-artist, in an exhibition happening at a gallery in MICA. Singapore and its transient ever changing nature effects the live span of galleries and their existence too. The gallery and its proprietor have relocated since.  I can’t say we immediately clicked, but we kept in touch. She went on to become a Mother and I waited and waited for her to come out and play. It was in 2010 that I told her it was time she broke her poetic silence and we work together. A good six years it has been and many group shows and collaborations together, Maya and I have come to know a lot not just about our processes in thought and technique, but also to our reaction to our environment.
Fragile in her consciousness, yet very strong physically, Maya, with all her contradictions, reacts to her physical environment in a microscopic way. Much of her material and techniques, create that up-close, tactile, macro vision, to the world which one will not assume she has due to her quiet demeanour. She is observing and watching her subjects can be that little bug on the wall, or that shadow that just creeped up behind you.
Maya in W/underland is playing the role of the transient nature narrator, recording what she sees, and the corresponding feeling, that it creates, surfacing a childhood memory. Her primary symbol, be it Alice or Liana (her daughter) stand as a symbol of a past, of a fleeting present, of a ray of light being caught in the palm, only to find its wings like the butterfly trapped in her photographic frame. Maya is making her tangible, tactile, memories linger, and create a poetic dance of their own. Poetry emanates not just from her lines, but from the fine lines she has painted in silver metallic shades, recording the childhood, carefree, state of being. Maya writes, “My memory is tinted in the shades of cyan blue and white, they feel cool to the touch. Preserved and shelved in little white boxes, to be taken out and examined, as if upon prescription by a doctor for a particular ailment or situation in this adult world.” These cyanotypes record her state of mind, her need for a pristine white boxed memory, an almost surgical presence, of a doctor carefully removing away painful thoughts and just keeping a pleasant one to box away. In a Sylvia Plath mode she continues to web her own W/underland, where memories survive the perils of time, where we leave behind a legacy of happiness for the child; where innocence is upheld in those beautiful lost moments spent in natures company, where watching a spider and its web is more a spiritual experience than a arachnologists work at hand.
With the clean slate of porcelain she webs her ink of memories sometimes in the shades of mud, and sometimes in blues, and then the grain of time that gather in lines of black all gather around and converse on the floor. Through these conglomerating lithography’s in porcelain it almost seems like Maya makes a comparison between herself and the nature of the clay. “We forget that we are of the earth, we polished beings. Layer upon layer of excavated things, mined things, dead things, we pile on top of ourselves, becoming a conglomerate of stuff”. Or is she making a universal statement about the loss of an age and legacy we are leaving behind for our generations to come. W/underland throws these various thoughts, questions, feelings and responses through mediums such as photography, clay, painting and printmaking. To sum it up I use a line from Maya again, “It is a mixed bag, and like a child with closed eyes, we periodically reach in and chance upon something”. Go and experience your own response to the Alice within you. W/underland runs from 1st to the 6th of November at Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film.
Meanwhile I shall store away my memories of yesterday's adventure with Alice in her W/underland.
 *arachnologists : Those who study spiders and other arachnids are arachnologists.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Salvador Dali at the RedSea Gallery

Monday afternoon was at the exhibition. It was a collection of thirty years of collaboration between Dali and his publisher Pierre Argillet. Below are some images that I clicked on my phone. The entire show is well represented in a catalogue for sale at $60. Lots of thoughts and emotions, hence will not pen them down. Just one particular point of interest, that can be easily spotted in the images below that both Marilyn Monroe and Venus have been depicted with nails pierced on their body. My personal favorite was The 1914-18 War (still available) war by numbers and the symphony of it all so well strung together. Enjoy the show it is on until the 5th of October.

















Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tales From India


It is the long weekend, and I decided to feed my soul with the exhibition, Tales From India, running from the 31st of August until the 17th of September at the Miaja Gallery. The Gallery has brought together Singapore based Alpana Ahuja, Mumbai Based Aashish Singh Tyagi and Kaushik Raha of Kolkata alongside with a special collaborative project called Miaja Design and Bernard Plates.
The Gallery has a beautiful spatial feel to it with brilliant lighting and tasteful display skills. For the weekend there was also a pop up jewellery show by Iliana Arrazola. If you are going past Bukit Timah road, amidst all that hustle bustle of the traffic, it would be difficult to miss these huge colourful Chin Mudra Sculptures at the window.
Alpana, a friend and a co-artist was there to take us around and so was the ever accommodating Julian Miaja of the Miaja Gallery. The following is a gist of a conversation with them.
Julian spoke about how they have been collecting work of various artists and over the years they like working and nurturing these artists. 

Kolkata born, Kaushik Raha is one such artist, who trained from Government College of Arts and craft. Raha’s cityscapes create a correlation between his surroundings and his artistic practice. His use of colour and light are to be noted…the darker tones grounding his work are offset by an almost hopeful light that radiates from the building facades. Each artwork depicts stories told and lives lived on the streetscapes of India, framing the nuances of everyday life. Kaushik is a recipient of Camlin Art Award from Camlin Foundation; Saibal Ghosh Memorial Scholarship, and Gopal Ghosh Award and Scholarship from Government College of Art &Crafts, Kolkata, amongst others.


Kaushik’s work, brought to mind my artist friend Swaroop Sankar’s work. More on Swaroop, in another blog post.

Aashish Tyagi is quite the multi disciplinary artist and has a need to pursue public art and he explains, “We need a new social dialogue in our families and society. It is important to understand other points of view around us. Art has the ability to make you think and question.” Size intrigues him and he clearly loves the impact on us. “Anything out of context creates an internal dialogue, the mind is always trying to make sense of our situation by giving context, if you take that away, it creates disturbance and thus an urge to find meaning by creating a new or familiar context. The mind is looking for harmony but harmony is not the solution, it’s rather a state, like dusk is the harmony between night and day”.
Aashish Tyagi’s, internal dialogue results in this current body of work Gyan Mudra series, in which he puts down these tales from the Indian mythology that he grew up on. He felt an urge to design and create in collaboration with these amazing craftsmen something beautiful and meaningful, thus in his small way helped to conserve their crafts and heritage.
On asking him over email, why each of these fiber glass creations only displayed the Chin Mudrah, he replies, “The palm separates us from all living organisms, all other species use the hand or the palm for utilitarian purposes only humans use it to create amazing things like the world we have created around us. The Gyan mudra, according to the Indian hindu mythology is the most profound mudra out of the 10. It's used while meditating, it opens our mind, to the wisdom of the universe and connects us to the cosmos. The right hand is considered prime. On this mudra are stories from the Indian mythology. They express the foundation of our civilisation. The creation and the evolution, the giving up of the ego, to become one with the gods.”


His span of expressions stretches from Nudes in charcoal to films and documentaries, and apart from working with prolific director-producer Shekar Kapoor, he also has some of his works at the T2 terminal of the Mumbai International Aiport Art Project. Currently Tyagi is working on an installation for a sports academy on the outskirts of Mumbai. 


In the black walled display room apart from Kaushik Raha’s beautiful water colours are the collaborative Miaja Design + Bernadaud Plates. This is a limited edition porcelain setting, for 6 which was inspired by the bustling streets views of Mumbai, captured by Isabelle Miaja herself. The collection was designed for the Speciality restaurant at Sofitel Mumbai BKC, as part of their limited addition series. Each plate captures a moment in everyday life and how it is then extracted, frozen into a singular memory engrained in porcelain.  Julian showed me the full images from which these extractions were made. For a Mumbai girl, it spells nostalgia,  as I saw familiar scenes of a frame makers shop, to the flower and garland store, the clothesline that we grew up seeing as important installations of our cultural fabric and of course the famous Muhammed Ali Street and the antique shops.  

I had a more detailed conversation with Alpana, through whom I was informed about the current exhibition.

Joyotee: Alpana tell me a little of how your journey in art began?
Alpana:  I discovered the artist in me at 8 years of age, when I saw my mother painting at an art class she had enrolled herself in. I was so impressed by the burst of colour and technique that I started imitating her and made greeting cards by the dozens (since all I got was paper to paint on). Shortly after, I studied under teachers who guided me in the arts and developed a special liking towards watercolours during my time at the New Delhi Polytechnic. I especially remember the outdoor painting sessions at the ancient Delhi monuments. Over the years, I experimented with several mediums and my move to Singapore brought me to study further at NAFA (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts). I like to paint whatever I can get my hands on; paper, canvas, cement walls, fabrics, wooden or even glass artifacts. Animals continue to be an essential ingredient in my journey, and I also volunteer at ACRES to rescue animals, bringing me closer to the core of my inspiration.

Joyotee: When and how did elephants become part of your journey?
Alpana: I have always been passionate about animal causes and loved painting animals in water colour. On one of my trips to Delhi I set out late one night to help a dog hit by a car....and it was a chain of events that led me to the Co-founders of Wildlife SOS India. I was amazed to learn about their work and wanted to help them through my art ( I have been helping local NGO -ACRES with my art since 2005). So I painted a calendar for 2014 and used it as a tool to create awareness about Wildlife SOS. The elephant I painted in that calendar set me off on a beautiful journey. I felt a deep connection and spent many days with the rescued elephants, bonding with them. 


I felt elephants paintings piling up inside me and couldn't get them out fast enough! I was totally immersed in my muse...as if the confusion had finally cleared and I could see my path. I now understood why and how an artist can spend so many years just painting one topic. Years of painting Lord Ganesha, part elephant, part human had transited into an embodiment of the whole.

Joyotee: Your elephant foot print series with the elephant paintings behind have a beautiful effect and I really feel one has to see it in person to get a full feel of the emotions it evokes? Can you share with us how you get the elephants to create these prints on your canvas?

Alpana: The elephant footprint series or 'Padhchinhs' were conceived by me in their current form. Mahouts working with the elephants used to take footprint impressions of the elephants and Wildlife SOS offered me these canvasses to work on and add my art. But Colours are very important to me and I wanted to execute everything myself from start to finish. So I pre-prepared the canvas myself, by painting the backgrounds and then worked with the elephants, along with the mahouts and a Vet. I work mostly with elephant Phoolkali, a 52 year old gentle elephant. The elephants are trained to lift their feet for a medical examination, so I apply the Colours I want on the foot-palette and the elephant places it on the canvas. Meanwhile she gets lots of bananas and treats as a reward. Once the prints are done, I scrub her feet clean with a brush. She also decides how long she wants to work. She is free to walk off to meet her friends! When she returns she brings mud and bits of elephant poop also and sometimes this gets embedded into the prints. 
100% proceeds from the Padhchinhs go to Wildlife SOS for the elephants. Animals have no answer to two of mans inventions- money and the gun. And they have been prosecuted, exploited, hunted, tortured by man using both against them. 


Joyotee: Any unique experience or stories you would like to share while creating these?

Alpana: Last year I got a chance to work with the baby of the herd- 6 year old Peanut. She was excited and jumpy and put her trunk into everything including my paints, so the mahout suggested I work with her hind foot. I started without thinking much.....until I got smacked across my face by her constantly swishing tail! It was a narrow escape, as the tail has hard bristles of hair and I felt like I had been smacked with a toilet brush. So I got another mahout to hold her tail. We started work......and then she decided to pee!! It was like a tap gushing, and I had to quickly retrieve my canvas to save it, then wash and dry the space to work again. Baby Peanut also polished off three times the amount of treats gentle Phoolkali eats! This year I could not work with her as the mahouts said she is very naughty and does not realise her own strength and just wants to play. So the dozen or so foot prints I got are really very precious as now she is much bigger in size also.

Joyotee: Do you think you have found your niche and do you think elephants are something that will remain your muse for a while?

Alpana: Yes I feel fulfilled and also energised when I'm painting elephants. I do think I will be painting them for the next few years. My future projects will include more animals like the Sloth bear, and native wildlife of Singapore. 

One can see her passion and love for the animals, the way her eyes sparkle when speaking about her process of getting the Padhchinhs done. It takes years for an artist to find their voice. Alpana has found hers amidst these majestic creatures. We wish her luck that her sadhana and her expression will help her in her social cause of creating awareness for the animals. All proceeds of the Padhchinhs go to Wildlife SOS for the elephants.
Please do make it a stop before the 17th of September. I felt enriched walking out of this show. Wishing all the artists luck with their expression and respective muses.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Padma Gauri

 
Lajja Gauri  and Padma Gauri by Joyotee Ray Chaudhury 



In the first age of the gods, existence was born from non-existence.
The quarters of the sky were born from Her who crouched with legs spread.
The earth was born from Her who crouched with legs spread,
And from the earth the quarters of the sky were born.
Rig Veda, 10.72.3-4

I chanced upon her accidentally during a Google search. She seemed to draw me in to her immediately. It was that Lotus head with that exposed vulva Posture that had me intrigued. I had to draw her, and draw I did. The first sketch, on the form that the first sculptures of her were found, in old civilizations, life giving, flowering, in a blossoming phase. However I was looking for a birthing goddess and I stumbled upon her as I wanted to articulate the current state of earth and humanity. My second sketch is what she seemed to just be right for. However due to the extraordinary combination of her posture with her lotus head I started reading more about the Lajja Gauri. The name itself had me intrigued and I did feel the name was a result of societies much after the concept of this diety.
Her visually explicit representation is aesthetic and pertaining to her cult birthing and not pornographic at all, contrary to the Victorian socially constituted societies.  Her first reference is the Rig Veda, while her worship can be traced back to the 1st century in the Indus Valley and is linked to Shaktism cults, she has the appellation of the Goddess Aditi. Her description in the Rig Veda describes her limitless and being uninhibited is her true form, free as the sky, open and vast. Gauri in southern India is linked to Sati and Parvati, hence she is very much linked to the Shaktism beliefs. Gauri is the manifestation of the supreme Mother, limitless like the sky in her description, and is invoked more for her role in fertility and progeny. She is the life giving or birthing force. She is referred to as the Creator Deity who has given birth to the trinity. Other similar references of Lajja Gauri are in Renuka Goddess of fertility, similar to Matangi and the grama devata Yallama.
Now to analyse her detailed postural references to variant beliefs and practices in the East. Her “Uttanapad” posture which is the legs wide apart, is to facilitate childbirth via full exposure. One leg raised slightly higher than the other. Her sensually comfortable posture also has lotus adoration through ornamentation. The lotus symbol follows as a vine through her body almost rising from her base chakra as a seed and through her ornaments onto the lotus she holds in both hands and then sees a complete manifestation a full blossomed many fold Lotus as her head symbol.
To now understand the emphasis on Lotus as the most important symbol that She carries. The Lotus has great significance in all ancient civilizations, from the Hindu traditions to the Egyptian beliefs. According to the Egyptian myth of world creation, the lotus came from an original silt and from its chalice the divine Creator. The lotus flower, opening up at sunrise and closing at sunset, symbolizes the Sun God and the light expansion outside the original silt. This interesting as the slit here can be referred to the Goddesses vulva travelling upwards to create the divine chalice in which, births and blossoms true spiritual knowledge. The Lotus is the symbol of true spiritual blossoming. In the Tantra beliefs, there is a subtle body within the human body, crossed by three channels known as the nadis at the base. The Lateral channels where opposed energies, solar and lunar, are winding around the third neuter channel and five basic points. The total seven points referred to as chakras translating to wheels in Sanskrit, coming with spikes form the lotus in stylized form. These centres are represented very precisely in the Hindu tradition as lotuses with the petal number.
In my bid to understand the Mother Divine in this form, the Tantra explanation of ascension, seems to best express her. The “kundalini” rises in the static form of the subtle energy, crosses successively the different chakras associated with the physical, psychical and spiritual needs to lead the being towards the true Knowledge and the full Realization symbolized by the thousand petal lotus. In the Taoist Tantra, the blooming is the result of an internal alchemy, marriage of the essence (hsin) with the breath (ki), of Fire (Li) and Water (Kan) that symbolizes the return to the centre, the unity of the essential state represented by the lotus.


To sum it up I understand the Lajja Gauri not just as a Goddess of fertility but a Goddess that represents Life. She is life giving by nature. With an open vulva the seed of thought germinates within her, and takes full form in her chalice. Life and thought both move upwards experiencing the body pains and pleasures to transcend above these for the ultimate birth goal, which is the spiritual manifestation of a being. This is best represented in the manifold Lotus head, where the body ceases to exist and only the pleasure of a fully realised existence persists in the Padma formation. I hence would like to name her in my drawings as the “Padma Gauri”. In my second drawing My Padma, is releasing the toxic state of being that our planet has evolved into. This drawing is a question to our existing humanity and societies, as to where we are headed, with our mindless growth and violence. Is there any realization happening or are we on the path of self annihilation……in that case her vulva will now consume existence. The lotus of learning will not shrivel but stand true for ages to come, advising, that we need to rise above the physical state of being of war and meaningless misery.  



References :
http://www.academia.edu/5246382/Lajja_Gauri_the_goddess_of_sexuality_from_Mesopotamia_to_India

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Queen of Sheba The Singapore Sidewalk, an interview with Kavita Issar Batra



I recently had a chat with Kavita Issar Batra about Queen of Sheba: The  Singapore Sidewalk. Kavita is an Indo-British artist, for whom Singapore has been home for the past seven years. She studied art with Ruth Perez in London, James Holdsworth and David Kelly in Singapore. Her oeuvre spans oil, acrylic, mixed media paintings, installation and photography. She has collectors in Singapore, India, Dubai, Europe, Uk, US and Australia.  Below is the gist of our conversation.

Joyotee:        Congratulations Kavita. Within a span of 9 months you have rolled out your second solo and a huge body of works. Do tell us a little about the making of Queen Of Sheba?
Kavita:          The body of work represented in this exhibition started in late 2012. I found my gaze being drawn to a whole new world underfoot on the pavements, while out walking each morning in the neighbourhood we had moved into.  I started to record my daily observations with my phone camera for myself and share with friends through Facebook.  This then expanded into the Morning Walk Montage page to allow a wider community to engage as also on Instagram.  This has been an almost daily practice for over three and a half years, no matter where in the world I find myself. It is an art practice in itself but also the inspiration behind my paintings and print making. 
End September early October 2015, I had the first solo exhibition of paintings, I had been working on over a three year period, inspired by the detritus I collect and observe, “Of Time, the Elements and their Essence” also held at Intersections Gallery, Singapore.  Following on from this, the gallery was keen to share the Morning walk montage practice that underpins my creative processes with a wider audience .  I too wished to share ‘my discoveries’ with a wider audience, especially of Singaporeans, an alternative view of this island that is now my home and muse.   This led to this current exhibition.
‘Queen of Sheba, The Singapore Sidewalk’ showcases some of the Morning walk montage photographs along with the musings I put up on Facebook. They have been blown up into limited editions, Museum quality photographic prints.  I have also been working on some monotype prints using acrylic paint and the bits of detritus, adding another point of conversation into the exploration of and to give voice to this often ignored and trampled on ‘world’. Each of these montypes is unique and cannot be recreated.  The final piece in the show is an  abstract, oversize (160 x 500 cm), mixed media canvas my ‘Ode to the Singapore Sidewalk’ that has provided so much inspiration to me. It is my muse. 
 My book ’Of Time, the Elements and their Essence’ 2015 which contains highlights of the montages from over the three years along with illustrations of how they inform my paintings is also available. As is the ‘book in the box’ titled ’Queen of Sheba, The Singapore Sidewalk’ this is 48 of the montages in a loose sheaf of postcard style cards. Most mornings my husband, our canine companion, Bella and I walk for an hour or so around the streets of our neighbourhood we try different routes and so this format allows you to also walk among the montages as you please. At weekends we walk to and in the Singapore Botanic gardens, a number of montages are from there too. Both books have been designed and set by very imaginatively by Brian Loke and printed in Singapore by a local firm.  They are available at SS50 each, from the gallery.


J:                    Tell us a little about the title of the show?
K:                The title comes from a game I remember playing with my Mother as a young child.  We would have to walk to most places in the Indian Himalayan hill station I grew up in and to keep me amused my mother would be the Queen of Sheba requiring me to forage for various things along the way like a black stone or two red leaves and so on. Working on a book, to accompany the exhibition last year, I wondered if my penchant for detritus stems from those long forgotten childhood games. While now, I do not set out to ‘find’, as it is a more spontaneous process. I do not pluck or alter the pieces I am drawn too. Sometimes, I do collect and bring bits back to my studio and photograph the montage against whatever painting I am working on at the time. I only use an iphone camera to allow this spontaneity as I never know when or where something will catch my eye.

J:                    Your process is unique and it’s the observers eye that goes and picks her subjects and her inspirations on her morning walks. So when do you feel that Kavita starts emerging from all of this?
K:                The individual leaves, tree bark fragments, withering flowers, fruits and seeds, their shapes, textures, colours are beautiful in themselves and better than studying text books. At other times accidental juxtapositions reflect patterns of the macrocosm. The miscellaneous remnants of our built up and industrial environment also fascinate – the anthropomorphic line drawing qualities in curiously twisted bits of wire, the feel of rusted metal bits too parallel the more organic parts of our landscape. The pavements and surfaces are a canvas for these but increasingly evocative in themselves. It is the interplay of time, the elements and the essence of each individual piece that has me hooked. I see metaphors for my own mid-life stage in the way this interplay takes place. It has changed the way I ‘see’ the world around me. Often time a thought, a quote, a line of a song some reference will pop in my head and becomes the thought to accompany the montage. My life experience obviously colours how I look at what I see.



J:                 Singapore while known for its green patches is also doing away with a lot of its greenery to meet the urban needs. How do you see your work speaking of the times we live in?
K:                    When I first came to Singapore seven years ago, I was captivated by the majestic trees that line so many of the roads. Singapore is growing vertically at a bewildering rate, glass and concrete towering over the tree line.  The building work happens with minimum disruption, when it is finished grown trees and mature lawn appear - our city in a garden. The primary forest that covered Singapore is just a smidgeon now even the secondary forest cover is shrinking. Yet left untended or untamed in this climate, nature is quick to reclaim the land.  The ‘city’ looks after ‘the garden’, the detritus swept away and recycled as compost but before that happens time, the elements and their own essence only determine how these bits die and decompose. The only thing certain from the moment we are born is that we will die. The specifics of when and how remain unknown. By slowing down our frenetic pace of ‘life’ becoming more aware of our surroundings, observing natural processes around us, we can all become more mindful about our own way of living, how we treat other inhabitants of this planet we call ‘ours’ and hopefully nurture rather than negate this earth that sustains us all.


J:                  You have a niche here and galleries love working with artists who have found that. Yet in your last collection we saw more of paintings and in this we see a huge mix of mediums. So how was it received a) by the gallery b) viewer.
K:                Marie and Louise at Intersections have been amazingly supportive and have walked alongside me in this creative journey. They see the importance of understanding the whole of an artist’s practice not just what makes commercial sense and for that I am very grateful. In todays world - the information onslaught, instant gratification culture, the need to make a living and livelihood – so many demands on our time. However, we also must claw back that space to just stop for a moment, allow thoughts and ideas to mingle and spark debate and to enrich our emotional and spiritual sides
It is very gratifying and humbling that so many people who come into the gallery feel a natural affinity to what they see in my art works especially in the installations of the detritus I have collected. Being able to connect with people of different ages, ethnicities and life experience is extremely satisfying.

J:               You use your images to catalogue your finds and juxtapose those against some painted surfaces created by you. These have been captured by your mobile. As an artist who uses photography as her mediums, I have to ask you, Why your mobile and not a more serious camera to do the same?
K:                I never know when I may come across something that will catch my eye and so I continue to use my iphone camera to record my finds and take photographs. The resolution is excellent and as you see in the exhibition the results when printed are amazing.

J:                At any point do you feel you are actually moving out these subjects from their natural environment to make something what you see as your creation? Has this process seemed too contrived and contrary to process of being an observer?
K:             People connect with the montages because there is a freshness to them which wouldn’t be there if they were contrived. I do not feel I ‘create’ the montages I see my role more as a facilitator, a note taker and interpreter perhaps. It’s a bit like the tv programme ‘Britain’s got Talent’ or any such show, I give these bits of detritus the stage to be the star on.
J:                   Kavita thank you for taking the time to answer these questions? While I know you have told me that your journey enfolds along the way, could we get a privy to what we can expect from the sidewalks.
K:                    Joyotee thank you for taking time to go beyond the visual at the exhibition and in terms of my process. I never set out to make the detritus on the ground my muse. Art has always been important to me, even while I worked in HR at University  and in the NHS in the UK , as a mother to two young children. Since moving to Singapore it has become a way of life. As to what next, I follow the flow from within.

Friends and art lovers do go and catch the exhibition, Queen of Sheba: The Singapore Sidewalk, showing now to 28th of August at the, Intersections Gallery 34 Kandahar Street Singapore 198892. Also available at the Gallery are the books , Of Time, the Elements and their Essence priced at $50 and the book in a box  Queen of Sheba, The Singapore Sidewalk also priced at $50 only.

Artists talk by Kavita Issar Batra, on Queen of Sheba- The Singapore Sidewalk, is at 11am on the 14 August 2016 (Sunday) Please register with the gallery art@intersections.com.sg