Artist Statement

My practice lives at the intersection of being a woman bound to the traditional role of being a homemaker claiming a space for herself. I work primarily on paper such as used opened tea bags, handmade papers, discarded paper such as flight tickets or printed invitations, paper napkins, sheets from notepads etc. These papers work as the binding medium to create multi layered mixed media artworks that include natural dyes, earth pigments and found objects, where inner journeys, places and memories overlap. Central to my practice is the act of renewing discarded materials to give them a new meaning and life. My home and studio are filled with shells, stones, seeds, dried leaves and flowers, rusted and broken pieces of metal, buttons and beads. To hold the delicate pieces together the kantha or running stitch is an integral motif in my work. The act of making is a meditative and therapeutic process.

There is little separation between my life and my art, and my artworks are a reflection of the personal, the private and my mundane everyday. As a ritual I close my day with a cup of tea and write down the happenings on scraps of paper. I set the tea bag to soak and dry on paper, which later gets woven into my works. I have been working with used tea bags for over a decade, a medium through which I create visual experiments that log the passage of time. The tea bags have become associated with warmth, sharing and stories that are so much a part of my daily life. Over the years this habit of collecting and memorialising day to day occurrences has become a core aspect of my work. Journeying through physical and metaphysical spaces I revisit older tea journals as I create something new out of them. As I engage with the record of a day passed, sometimes from a year or months before, I relive it through peculiar personal details along with the knowledge of a future that my past self could not know. The memorialization that follows is emotional, material and tactile in that I use writing, drawing, collage and stitching to record and preserve my memories, and have now created over 400 hundred tea journals. Many of my works come to become a series, where the accumulative aspect of the collection is greater than its whole.

Time keeping, mapping journeys and journaling are inherent to my practice and seen not only in my ‘Tea Journals,’ but in other works such as ‘Mapping Journeys,’ and ‘Mummy’s पोटली.’ In ‘Mapping Journeys,’ I record my journey while in a moving vehicle where I look outside the window and use any pen to draw on whichever notepad I have on hand without looking down. These works were born out of the long distance between my home and my studio. Faced with the challenges of running a home and sustaining an art practice, it also became a record of how often I was able to get to my studio. This work has since extended beyond the route of my home and studio and I’ve made hundreds of drawings. The markings on the paper are a topography of the spaces traversed. ‘Mummy’s पोटली,’ are thirty two small works on paper. I was very close to my mother-in-law who passed away last year. While staying at her home after her death everything in the house was a sign of her absence. I found her sewing kit to mend something for myself and inside it I found a trove of objects she had collected over the years mixed in with her needles and threads. Over the days that passed I created the works in her memory.