I first met Sanchita Islam quite a few years back in the lobby of what was then the Whitechapel Library. Arnold Wesker was there too. For a radio programme, I was taking them through the streets just to the north, their East Ends, and looking at the different meanings and memories tied up with the buildings on and around Brick Lane. I wasn't sure they were going to get on. But after a tricky moment early on, they hit it off just fine, and it was one of the more memorable pieces of radio I've pulled off.
Sanchita's style of art is eclectic. This is an oil painting entitled 'Dadu' - the Bengali word for paternal grandmother. I find it wonderfully evocative and affectionate. Sanchita is British of Bangaldeshi heritage, and has taken an unconventional route to being a well known and regarded artist, writer and film-maker. Don't take my word, here's her own account:
'Her path towards becoming an artist has been an unconventional one.
A former model, a former Miss Bengali beauty queen, a double graduate from the
London School of Economics, the recipient of a Channel 4 bursary to attend Film
School, and a Chelsea School of art school drop out, her education has been eclectic
to say the least. She has always been somewhat of a maverick, eschewing the gallery
system, Sanchita set up her own Pigment Explosion Gallery, off Brick Lane, in 1999,
engaging in international art projects and showing her work in both galleries and
unconventional spaces in London and abroad.'
You can find out more here about pigmentexplosion - and in March, she's going to have a mid-career retrospective entitled 'The Rebel Within'. It will be at Rich Mix on Bethnal Green Road. Thanks to Sanchita for allowing me to post these images of her art - and see you there!
LATER- Sanchita Islam comments: The painting of Dadu is based on a very poor quality digital photo I took of my step-grandmother in Barisal Bangladesh. The bed on which she sits, where we see her absorbed in the Koran, was as hard as wood, but she didn't seem to mind. The house is over one hundred years old - relatively untouched with its crumbling, cracked walls - and very charming. I am a great admirer of Vermeer, his use of light and the elevation of the ordinary folk into something monumental. I was trying to create a modern day Vermeer in a Bangladeshi setting, a subject we see rarely in contemporary modern art. I'm not saying I am anyway near Vermeer, but that was my point of reference and inspiration.
The other piece is the beginning of a 30-foot scroll of the panoramic view of East London executed from the top of Shoreditch House, which I completed during my residency there. I've been drawing the East End of London from rooftops for many years and am constantly fascinated by the rapid state of change of urban landscapes. The view was quite dramatically different by the time of completion with the fat concrete arm of the new train line brutally obscuring everything in its path. The landscape has altered irrevocably as a result.
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