Interview – Sarah Pupo

Sarah Pupo, an artist from Montreal, joined us from November 2016 to February 2017 as a Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec Residency in India. Her work integrates painting and drawing, installation and self-taught, provisional animation techniques. Her approach to making things prioritizes intuition, associative thinking and the flux of chance and control. The repetitious action of drawing (sitting down in a particular place, using a set of special objects) and the rhythmic, slowed down practice of animation open up a luminal space where times moves differently and it is possible to look and sense in a different way. Dream, emotion, memory, ghost, fantasy, all that can’t be thought through in a linear manner are addressed more easily through these rituals of making.

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We asked her a few questions about her work and her time in Mumbai: 

What does animation mean to you?

For me, animation is all about process and time. When I am deep into working on an animation time seems to stand still, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together very very slowly and decisions are being made incrementally. This makes room for intuition as I often feel like I am taking a back seat to the decision making process and the content of the piece is just unfolding, one movement triggering the next and the next. I only need to listen and follow.

Animation also does funny things with time – when you are working it stretches time out and then when the piece is being viewed it condenses time. Both of these times exist in an animation, fast and slow movement simultaneously.

Finally, I love how transformative animation is. Something that is mundane or drab looking in life becomes smoothed out, sharpened, glows or changes when it is photographed and projected; a three dimensional object becomes a creature of shadow, two shapes overlap and combine in unexpected ways, the flicker of light in a room transforms a scene or casts a strange glow. There is a really basic pleasure in giving something life and watching it move.

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Most memorable/favorite artwork from your trip?

This was a tie between 2 works I saw at the Kochi Muzeris Biennale: Prime by Camille Normant and Aphelion by Pedro Gomez-Egaña.  Normant’s work was a cluster of benches set in a room that looked out onto the sea. Deep disembodied humming filled the room and as I sat down on one of the benches I jumped to feel one of the ghost voices vibrate through my own body. Each bench had a different voice. The room was both restful and (literally) vibrating with energy.

In Aphelion, Pedro Gomez-Egaña had set up a very thoughtful shadow theatre. The audience was ushered into a small room, doors were closed and we were plunged into darkness. A tiny ball of light emerged on a glowing horizon line and a voice filled the room suggesting many overlapping narratives/histories of a ship at sea. It was poetic and played with how many stories one could project on such a simple image. At the end the doors burst open, light poured in from outside and the mechanism was revealed. I liked both the celebration and unraveling of this simple magic.

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Do you have a dream project? 

I have lots of dream projects! Two of which I started on while I was in India- the first is to make an artist book of my watercolours and the second is to animate a poem, Kok, by my friend Kristin Eiriksdottir. I guess what these both have in common is the desire to combine text and image. Text is an element that I have wanted to introduce in my work for a long time but have not figured out how to negotiate it yet. To be continued…

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What have some of the major influences of this trip been for you? 

This trip has influenced me in many ways, a lot of which will emerge slowly in my work as I process it over the next months (and years, I’m sure).

Something that left a big impression was the crumbling and regeneration of things. How as one wall was falling another was being built. How things were decaying but plant life was taking over. How one layer after another was peeling from a painted wall to reveal the layers underneath and underneath. I love how many traces of the past come up to the surface in Bombay. How fragments of past lives and architectures and new industry/structures and ways are living side by side all the time.

The trash and discarded objects that were around also made an impression on me – from man made trash and wrappers to fallen palm leaves and organic detritus in the streets. I loved how much stuff was just lying around everywhere – little coloured bits and weird shapes in the dust. I started making objects for the first time because of this, small painted paper sculptures.

And obviously (I know its cliché to say but) colour was a big one. The browns and yellows of buildings and dust punctuated by the colour of clothing hanging in every nook and cranny, on people, in wedding and Christmas decorations, painted on temples. I love that the go-to for everything seems to be bright colour rather than neutrals and the combinations of colour and pattern clash are incredible.

A quick list of other influences: textiles and the textile markets, block printing, small alters and devotionals everywhere, the simultaneous new growth/freshness and decay, the fast/slow pace of everything in the city, people’s resourcefulness and ability to make do and improvise provisionally, the crush of sound, smell and activity that constantly overwhelmed my senses.

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Tamaris Borrelly

Artist Tamaris Borrelly weaves together two different worlds of existence, life that is fictional and non fictional, that which she experiences, sees, touches and studies in nature. Her work is a coming together of two different mediums, watercolor drawings and 2D animation in the form of a video. The combination of these two medium helps her play and experiment with her themes. Natural Forms and landscapes are common threads in her drawings and animation that depicts life. She experimented with terracotta as a way to mold forms from her drawing into 3 dimensional works.

During her time in India Tamaris travelled to islands in the Andaman. The discovery of the underworld life and the impact it had on her inspired her to work on independent drawings along with series of drawings. The series of drawings were on different paper, which enhanced the narrative further. One of the series was on different under sea creatures for which she used black thin Japanese paper.

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The second series of drawings was on the idea of the deformation of a community of different living forms on a tanned blue shading off paper. The blue is a representation of the cosmos or the sea.

In these six drawings the bodies, animals or plant life disappear slowly from the left to the right, to reach the stage of abstract forms.

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The last drawing series was an exploration map, which were created on various sized paper.

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Alongside these explorations with water colour drawings and animation, Tamaris spent a few days at Rashi Jain’s pottery studio situated in Mankhurd Mumbai, learning the properties of terracotta as a natural material

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Studio Karva – Mankhurd

 

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Studio Karva – Mankhurd

The 2-month residency culminated at a lovely gathering for an open studio hosted at Coral Studio Bandra. The evening at Coral Studio was to commemorate the 2-month long residency of artists in residence, Tamaris Borrelly, and Mahana Delacour, Mumbai based artist Shambhavi Bhat & guest performer Rati Tripathi presented their recent work as well.

An interesting evening of Performances, Video & Installation followed, with some of their visual artworks displayed on the walls at Coral studio. Here are a few pictures of the Open studio.

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Video screening of ‘Orphism’ at Coral Studio- Bandra 

 

In Response to the City

Abir Mukherjee recipient of the Inlaks Fine Art Award 2016, was in residence at the WAA studio’s for the month of June.

Abir Mukherjee’s practice is an enquiry into the basic act of looking and to provide the audience the opportunity to experience the world in a new way. During his time at the WAA residency he chose to paint portraits of people from the locality of Bandra and around the city of Mumbai. He let the works develop organically, interacting with people from the local area around the studio, and developing portrait sketches which told stories of their personal interactions and backgrounds.

By keeping his initial process flexible Abir allowed participation that then made the work collaboration between the model and the artist. To have a dialogue with the rich tradition of painting, Abir layered his works with references to his engagement with the people that he painted.

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Portrait of Abir’s Photographer friend.
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Working at the WAA studio.

As part of the residency with us we organised a few meaningful interactions and studio visits with artists such as Sudhir Patwardhan, Gieve patel, Atul Dodiya, Akbar Padamsee, Sharmista Ray and Gallerist Hena Kapadia of Tarq.

Abir unwrapped his canvases for further insight and critique on his work and processes.

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Visit to Sudhir Patwardhan’s studio.
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Visit to Sudhir Patwardhan’s studio.
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Visit to Atul Dodiya’s studio.
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WAA studio visit by Hena Kapadia.

Having completed his education with Bachelors in Fine Arts (B.F.A.) and an M.F.A. first class from Kala-Bhavana Santiniketan, Abir expands his practice into learning and unlearning the methods of traditional painting.

“What I seek in my work is to assimilate information from all my senses and create a response for it. Hence my painting becomes a personal record of the act of looking. In this situation some indefinable lively quality seeps in the work which surpasses mere representation.”

 

Begins in a corner.

Teja Gavankar’s graphic and sculptural work addresses the complexities of public space and architecture. By appropriating pre-existing models, she detracts and subtly transforms her objects, all the while pushing against the limits of their materiality. Currently, the artist’s drawings seek to understand space through the study of shapes that convey the existing traces of the past and the memory of place. Her intention is to look at spaces as mental states. Hence, she prefers to make use of existing materials or situations rather than bringing new material into the place.

During her time at the WAA studio she explored the nuances of material such as Cement, Brass sheets, Paper, beginning the explorations from the corners of her studio as she states in the text below.

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Corners of Teja Studio
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Corner’s of Tejas Studio
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Studio Wall-Drawing interventions onto the wall.
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Title: A corner is yours, others and mine.

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Open studio Setup.

 

‘Eastern Lights’ – work in progress

Tahireh Lal, Recipient of Inlaks Foundation 2016 was in residence at the WAA studios for the month of April.

Tahireh is an Indian artist and her practice is primarily self-reflexive. Her work deals with ideas of movement and stasis that stem from her mobile existence. Her ideas find expression in the form of video, installation and sculpture. Her artwork has featured at film festivals and in galleries both in India and at international events such as the Videonale in Bonne, Germany, and Nuit Blanche in Toronto, Canada. Her artwork develops in response to her immediate environment. Her work explores tensions between the familiar and unfamiliar as well as movement between these dispositions. Also, she is interested in how people can be simultaneously moving and grounded. She renders these ideas through various material experiments that have their own place and time stamp.

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Title- Enclosures or Scaffolding – 2015
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Title- The Hourglass- 2013

During her time at the residency Tahireh spent her time unpacking her current body of work titled, ‘Eastern lights.’ This is a study on both natural and artificial light in the region of Assam where she lives.

“I live in an agricultural village called Silghat. Travelling to and from Silghat and urban centers has made me observe the way the landscape in between changes through time and across seasons. The effect that sunlight duration and intensity has on life is visible at a large scale in the growth cycle of plants in fields and forests. This makes me think of hm, which is the unit of light required to catalyze photosynthesis in plants, converting sugar to adenosine triphosphate or energy. This reaction is the reason plants grow and also how we have life on earth. At night this activity stops, the landscape fades to black and illumination along the highway takes center stage – headlights of vehicles, streetlights, dhaba lights and reflectors. It is interesting to note our dependence on these lights as guides that help navigate the way home, a skill once dependent on reading the moon and stars. On the village dirt tracks, with only one set of headlights, the moon, stars and fireflies seem to come out of hiding. Their night- time bioluminescence appears to be the opposite of man made illumination, indicating the activity that nature is constantly about”.

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‘Eastern Lights’ – Work in progress at WAA studios.
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‘Eastern Lights’ – Work in progress at WAA studios.
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‘Eastern Lights’ – Work in progress at WAA studios.

Interview- Jim Holyoak

Jim Holyoak, a Montréal-based artist and writer was at the WAA residency from November through February 2016, as a Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec Residency in India. His discipline is comprised of drawing-installations and book-works, exploring the bridges and boundaries between perception and fantasy, humans and other animals, the biological and the phantasmagorical, deep time and the present. Holyoak’s drawings and ink-paintings range in size from postcards and zines to dense paper-environments, tailored to the architecture of the rooms that it occupies. In parallel to his solo practice, Holyoak has orchestrated numerous collaborative drawing projects, often with fellow artist Matt Shane, and sometimes involving hundreds of people drawing together, of all ages and skill levels.

What does drawing mean to you? 

Drawing (both noun and verb) means many things to me.

In speaking about thoughts, we associate thinking with words, but there are thoughts that cannot be said. Drawing is a way of non-verbal thinking and communicating (as is musical or mathematical thinking and communicating.)

Drawing often serves as connective tissue between different disciplines. In my case, this includes writing, literature and books, painting, installation, performance, music, ecology, and travel.

A dot moving in space is a line. Drawing is travel. Travel is transformation.

Sketching and taking notes, keeping a journal and a sketch book, unfolding maps and filling envelopes, doodling and day dreaming – drawing is a tool for navigating through life’s tangle of thoughts and sensations.

Drawing from imagination is a way to envision the invisible and unknowable. What would it be like to metamorphose into a new body? What would it be like to live a million years ago, or a million years from now?

Observational drawing is not only seeing, but touching, (and sometimes listening) – connecting the eye to the hand. Drawing from observation is one of the fastest ways to improve one’s technical skills, and I believe it intensifies one’s sense of vision (and if you’re drawing music/sound, it will intensify your hearing.)

Drawing is a deep line, tossed over the edge of a rowboat. When I feel the line pull, I’ll pull back, and something mysterious takes shape below the surface.

Drawing is a dotted line, skipping like a stone across the lake’s mirror surface, sewing tangent thoughts together. Drawing is an invisible line. It is a way to see in the dark. Drawing is what I’ll leave behind when I die. These pages are my lines in the sand.

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Sketchbook pages- Kids Dancing Mumbai.

Most memorable/favorite artwork to date?

I’m not sure what’s been the most memorable/favorite, but ‘The Utopic Dream of the Sun in a Box’ (2004) was certainly one of the most important artworks to me. I lived in a basement suite of a house in the city of Victoria (Vancouver Island, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada) with two friends and fellow artists, Matt Shane and Fike Anderson. We covered all the walls with paper, and drew all over our house for a year, allowing visitors to join in and leave their marks. Amidst the drawings and graffiti was dried spaghetti splatter, cigarette burns, dream-diary entries, fingerprints, holes chewed by small animals, etc. We were compelled by a curiosity to know what it would be like to fall asleep and wake up inside our drawing, psychologically and physically immersed, blurring the divide between art and life. After our year had passed, we received our first artist-grant to transport our paper walls to Montréal, and re-exhibit them within a labyrinth we built ourselves, at a DIY gallery called ‘The Lift.’ For Matt Shane and I, Montréal has been home base ever since, and together we’ve had over ten major collaborative exhibitions, in five countries, with more on the horizon.

How does teaching bring your practice together, or does it not?

Teaching keeps me sharp. It requires me to analyse, articulate and demonstrate my knowledge and ideas and questions. My favourite way of teaching is to facilitate workshops in which we’re all artists. The classroom becomes a collective laboratory and habitat. Every grouping of people is a chemistry project, and each mix of personalities is unique. Everyone draws (and thinks) in his or her own way. I believe that one of the best strategies to develop our artistry, and to challenge our habits, is to make art with other people. I learn from my students, while they learn from me, and each other.

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Jim’s Studio At WAA residency.
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Jim’s studio at WAA residency – photo credit Oliver Roura

Do you have a dream project? 

‘Living the Dream’ for me and my closest artist-friends has always meant the survival of that dream to make and imagine things – the continuances of creation, writing and drawing and making books and installations and music, for the rest of our lives.

I’ve been lucky. It’s strange to say this, but I have lived a lot of my dreams already. (I studied ink painting in China, drew woodland and mountain-kin trolls from direct observation in Norway, and just completed my first novel, ‘Book of Nineteen Nocturnes.’) I am living a dream now by being here, doing artwork in India.

Other dreams?

Once, I was at an art fair in the Toronto Convention Centre, which is an enormous interior space. I went up some stairs to a place where I could look down into the hundreds of booths full of art. I imagined what it would be like if everything was the same, but the booths were pushed in more tightly, and if the lights were turned out, and if a buffalo was released. And flying foxes. What would it be like to wander through that labyrinth?

I rarely make sculptures, but I like to imagine making gargoyles, and setting them in places where people never go, like up a tree, way off the forest-path. I would like to find one of those gargoyles by accident, a hundred years later, when it’s absorbed by the flow of wood, wearing a jacket of moss, starring with blind stone eyes.

I just finished writing and drawing a novel that took me 15 years. Now I’m dreaming of drawing and writing a book with a different kind of concentration – a book of postcard stories and prose poems – a collection of small things, each page taking a day or less, but adding up to describe the passage of years.

Other dreams include: adopting a cat and drawing her, returning to India to draw with kids, and hiking into the Himalayas to make ink-paintings of Mt. Kanchenjunga.

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Pages from his Graphic novel -‘ Book of Nineteen Nocturnes.’- photo credit Oliver Roura
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‘Book of Nineteen Nocturnes ‘ – photo credit Oliver Roura

 

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Jim’s studio at WAA residency-photo credit Dheer Kaku

What have some of the major influences of this trip been for you? 

Flue induced delirium, 10.5 hrs jet-lag, smiles and hellos, 35 degree heat, the lost art of reading, banyan trees with vines that spill like live wires, sleeping stray dogs, little brown bats at Jogger’s Park, hooded crows who flood the air at dusk, smog that looks like steam, going to the movies and drawing with both hands, hand-made brooms, 10-rupee boxes of crayons, coconut-shell birdhouses, animal articles in the newspapers, Ganesh at the sea who sinks and rises with the tide, Dheer Kaku and the ancient wizard, mangroves decorated with garbage, trolls in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the man who fed every homeless person on Hill Rd, wax arms and houses at St. Mary’s Basilica, Churchgate Station lineups, sketching in the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, visiting the Dhaka Art Summit, collaborating with students at Rachana Sansad Academy, Christmas drawing/dance party on a Colaba rooftop, Fort Kochi bookshops, every colour of every colour and every colour combination, streets like rivers of bodies flowing under pressure, the tremendous human energy everywhere, all those souls, blinding light, ear-drum splitting horns, and the studio like a sanctuary.

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Jim Holyoak, at his studio WAA residency- photo credit Oliver Roura

OPEN STUDIO November 28th 2015

The WAA-residency in the month of November witnessed packed studios with artists streaming from across disciplines. This was also the month that marked our 2-year anniversary. Since 2013, WAA has opened its doors to facilitate arts practices to young and established artists from across the world.

Artists in residence were: Dheer Kaku, recipient of the Inlaks Fine Art Award 2015, Ratna Gupta, Starlyn D’Souza, Soazic Guezennec, Jim Holyoak, Niyati Upadhya.

Dheer Kaku –Recipient of the Inlaks Fine Art Award

Dheer is a practicing Visual artist with a BA (Painting) from Rachana Sansad Academy of Fine Arts, Mumbai. His practice employs multiple mediums (photo, video, projection, drawing, installation) to achieve different perspectives of the mediums through which he documents his acts, and his surroundings. These materials and processes work to spotlight the use of time and space as a medium in itself.

http://dheerkaku.weebly.com/

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Pen and Ink Drawing on paper
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Map – Book sculpture- Woodcarving
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Outsiders– An interactive video installation

 

Jim Holyoak, Recipient of Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec Residency.

Jim is a Montréal-based artist and writer. His discipline is comprised of drawing-installations and book-works, exploring the bridges and boundaries between perception and fantasy, humans and other animals, the biological and the phantasmagorical, deep time and the present. Holyoak’s drawings and ink-paintings range in size from postcards and zines to dense paper-environments, tailored to the architecture of the rooms that it occupies. In parallel to his solo practice, Holyoak has orchestrated numerous collaborative drawing projects, sometimes involving hundreds of people drawing together, of all ages and skill levels.

http://monstersforreal.com/gallery/

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Pen and Ink Drawing on paper
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Jim Holyoak in conversation with studio visitors
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        Work in progress India ink on paper.   

 

Soazic Guezennec (France)

Soazic is a French artist living in Mumbai. Her work covers painting, drawing, sculpture, installations, video. Her focus is to create art, which constantly questions the tension between nature and culture. Drawing inspiration from her environment, she always creates dialogue with the location, translating the architecture, history and topography in a sensitive way.

http://www.soazicguezennec.com/

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Soazic Guezennec in conversation with Eve Lemesle, Amita Malkani, Sunita Choraria
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Holes- sensual. Oil pastels on acid free paper
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Holes – Geyser Oil pastels on acid free paper

 

Ratna Gupta -(India)

Ratna Gupta’s creative practice may be seen as physical demonstration/ playing out of the complex and sometimes painful negotiations and resolutions of personal, psycho-emotional contradictions. However, her work does not restrict itself to self-referential indulgence. While the ‘self’ has a strong presence in her work, she rejects direct figurative representation for a more actively conceptual/ sculptural way of rendering the living figure inscribed by all its contradictions and fragilities. She is also interested in undermining the earth-body binary. She reflects on this spurious division by embedding herself in the contemporary situation. From here the artist speculates on the ways in which this rift has been further fuelled by our culture of consumption.

The process of extrapolating an element that is still living – is a way to freeze it in time. Gupta’s work reminds viewers that we are surrounded even more by info-spheres with a sharp degradation of our biological / natural ecosystems.

http://ratnagupta.com/

 

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Work on display at Ratna Gupta’s Studio
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Open 2- Untitle

 

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I believe in fairies II

 

Starlyn D’Souza-(India)

Starlyn works with extensive and intricate drawings and ink spills that tell long stories largely involving the sea. He also makes intricate sculptural objects involving carcasses and natural residues found during the act of eating and travelling, especially along beaches. His latest series of work deals with decay – as an idea, decay as physical transformation and as the possibility of new life.

https://www.instagram.com/starlyn.ds/

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Untitled- Detail of soft sculpture
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Untitled- Detail of pen and ink drawing.
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Untitled- Found Fish bones and shell sculpture.

 

Niyati Upadhya-(India)

Niyati graduated in visual arts from Rachana Sansad, Mumbai in 2010. Though formally trained as a sculptor, Niyati has expanded the breadth of her practice across painting, photography, illustration and installation art. The work titled ‘All that is earth has been sky, is a series of faceless portraits bringing together various mediums –body painting, staged photography, Drawing pen and ink & Watercolor.

https://niyatiupadhya.wordpress.com/

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All that is earth has been sky – Photographic print, watercolour pen and pink.
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All that is earth has been sky – Photographic print, watercolour pen and pink.