We are pleased to announce Digswell Arts fellow Suman Gujral based in The Forge as the artist of the month.
How would you describe your current practice (eg materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
My history as an immigrant and child of refugees inspires my practice. My current work is about migration, climate change and the 1947 Partition of India. I mainly work with printmaking techniques but during lockdown I have started to make expanded drawings- 140×100 cms, on khadi paper, which is symbolic as I am from India. My materials support the themes I explore.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?
I have recently had two works accepted by the prestigious Woolwich Contemporary print fair which will be shown this Autumn virtually or in person depending on circumstances! In January, I was lucky enough to be awarded a bursary by A-N Artists to develop my practice. It’s for mentorship and making new work. My mentor is Lewis Biggs, formerly director of Tate Liverpool and currently of Folkestone Triennial. He has helped me to decide the direction of my practice, increased my confidence in my work and broadened my horizons. I am developing ideas for large scale installations.
What are you plans for the coming year?
I am developing an installation about migration and climate change principally using printmaking techniques. I am hoping to show it at next year’s Woolwich Contemporary. My solo with Parndon Mill, called Light and Shadow, was postponed but I hope it will go ahead next year so I am making work for that.
What is the question that you most get asked about your work?
I get asked why I work with print. It’s partly because there are so many different printmaking techniques which means that there are also lots of ways to explore my concerns. I love working with traditional etching – the way that the acid leaves permanent marks on the plate, both intentional and unintended, echoes how life leaves its traces on us. And solar etching because it’s environmentally friendly and gives great photographic effects. More importantly, because my work often explores global events print is the ideal medium for me as it has a long, global tradition of being used as a medium for protest and social commentary, from Callot in France -protesting war to Chittoprasad in India in the 1930s exposing the Bengal Famine to the collective, Printmakers Against Racism set up in the wake of BLM.
Who or what inspires you?
My history and my daily life inspire me. For me, life is an interplay betweenlight and shadow- light creates shadow and shadow helps us appreciate the light so as well as being socially responsive in my practice I love to make work about the landscapes I live work and travel as being outside makes me happy!
Which artists do you most admire and why?
My icon is Zarina Hashmi who died earlier this year. She was 86 but carried on making relevant, exciting work right to the end. She also worked mainly with print and was concerned with Partition, migration and human resilience. Her work is very poignant and compassionate. I also love Mona Hatoum for the scale of her ambition and versatility of her practice, and Marlene Dumas for her wonderful drawings.
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
Being in contact with other artists who are committed to their practice is very inspiring. I love being able to talk through problems and triumphs. The reviews which have been introduced are great for making me think about my practice.
Online store: https://sumangujral.bigcartel.com/