Interview with artist Sangeeta Bhagawati

How did the Gallery start and how is the Gallery run?

Skylark Galleries started on London’s Southbank in 1993. 

Currently, the gallery is an artist-run co-operative with everyone being part of running and maintaining the gallery. It is a wonderful hub in Southbank’s Gabriel’s Wharf and a home to many artists exhibiting in various mediums. 

How long have you been a student at Morley, what courses have you done and how has it helped you and your work in the Skylark Gallery?

I have been a regular student at Morley since 2014. I started in winter 2014 doing the Tuesday printmaking course with David Holah. Since then I have been regularly attending the same class with David, learning various methods of printmaking. I have explored other courses at Morley, like papermaking, and this helped me to integrate my printmaking and papermaking practice at times. 

The Tuesday printmaking class has been my platform for building an artist portfolio, which helped me to become a part of the wonderful artists’ co-operative called Skylark galleries. All the prints I have exhibited and sold at Skylark, prior to the lockdown, were made at the Morley print rooms.

If you’re interested in trying a printmaking course at Morley you can enrol on our printmaking taster here.

How have you kept creative and inspired during lockdown?

Since lockdown, I have not been able to access a press to make prints. But the need to be creative has been great motivation, making me crafty about finding ways to print from home. I decided to build a makeshift studio in my London apartment. I bought some linoleum printing equipment online, including roller, ink, paper, lino blocks and cleaning material. I made an artist’s corner in my apartment, covered it with newspaper and tissue paper, and started inking and printing lino blocks. I had to devise my own hand printing baren from a roti fluffer in my kitchen. After pulling a few dud prints I figured out a routine and has been producing original lino prints from my makeshift home studio since. 

It is difficult to find inspiration when there is no variety in your surroundings or in your routine. This has been a struggle during this period. My source of creativity has always been life drawing sessions. I used to develop my drawing notes from life drawing sessions to lino print designs. But with lockdown, physical drawing sessions with human models have not been possible. I, therefore, developed another routine with some of my friends. We would set up zoom drawing sessions online. One of us would share our computer screen of an online figure drawing website and we would all draw from the reference on our computer screen. Apart from giving us an opportunity to network, these sessions have helped all the participants in staying motivated during the current period. It has helped me immensely to maintain a lockdown sketchbook which in turn has informed the designs I carved recently. 

If you’re inspired by Sangeeta take a look at all our printmaking courses here.

Tell us about yourself, your work and style

I primarily work with lino print and chine-collé. 

My work is inspired by my experience of growing up as a woman in a South Asian culture. The subjects of my prints are mostly women and I try to channel the feelings of rebellion, strength and communion through my art on woman and body.

My prints revolve around images of the body. They evoke the relation of the body with pleasure, loss, power as well as growth. The images, of bodies together as well as in isolation, hinges on the narrative potential of my work – each print dwells on the possibility of multiple interpretation by the viewer. The aim is to encourage the viewers to feel the myriad emotions provoked by these carvings and mark makings on the body.

Did you run any online exhibitions while visitors couldn’t come to the Gallery in-person?

The Skylark website developed an artist’s page showcasing our work and we all worked hard to keep it up to date. We also did regular online exhibitions of our work during the lockdown, which were sent to our visitors via the newsletters. These exhibitions had different themes – https://skylarkgalleries.com/online-exhibition/

 You can see my online feature here – https://skylarkgalleries.com/lockdown-art/

If you’ve already got some printmaking experience why not try our intermediate course here.

Where can we find you and your work? Instagram, Twitter, website etc.

Instagram handle: @_amoort_ 

Twitter: @Sangeeta_Bha

My work was recently featured in the Made at Morley 2020 online exhibition – https://www.instagram.com/p/CAiHAGTAcPF/