In the third iteration of the international collaborative art project Artdom, nine female visual artists from India and an equal number from the United Kingdom were matched and given the task of producing a joint piece of art. On February 17, Mumbai will host an exclusive preview of five of the nine completed works from Artdom: Building Bridges with Art (Countries in Focus: UK & India) prior to public exhibitions in Oslo and London later this year.
The platform amplifies the voices of female artists on a worldwide scale through art and creativity, was founded by Swedish-Iranian artist and activist Arghavan Agida. In earlier editions, it has linked artists from Sweden and Iran, Norway and Pakistan, and other countries. The study contrasts the degree of women’s rights in two nations each year, and despite India’s robust democracy, women there still face many obstacles at home and at work.
“To work with art as a way to connect people and cultures has been my mission for the past 11 years,” says Arghavan who has been in India since early this year coordinating the completion of the artworks. “Art has always had the power to transcend borders and bring people together, and it’s great to see Artdom create a new dialogue and build bridges between different parts of the world. I chose India and United Kingdom because these two countries have a deep relationship and shared history, and such a project helps to create a deeper understanding and appreciation for different cultures and ways of life. My new goal is to create a platform where more people can connect and create together,” she adds.
With equality as the chosen theme, Arghavan – a former Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Women National Committee in Sweden – started her research on artists in the UK and India a year ago, looking for commonalities and compatibilities in style, skills and spirit. And her journey led her to artists young and old, new and established working across different media.
The artists that shared a canvas include Rosso Emerald Crimson (UK) and Nilisha Phad (India), Melissa Magg (UK) and Nidhi Mariam Jacob (India), Anna Sudbina (UK) and Premila Singh (India), Sarah Jarrett (UK) and Manjri Varde (India), Amy Dury (UK) and Sej (India), Naila Hazell (UK) and Atia Sen (India), Jackie Berridge (UK) and Monica Ghule (India), Harriet Pattinson (UK) and Bhakti Lad (India) and Mahshad Afshar (UK) and Karishma Wadhwa (India).
“Putting together a group of women artists across two continents and pairing them in a way to share the responsibility of creating one artwork addressing big topics, it’s a powerful way of moving forward with our artistic voices into areas we may not have articulated or felt confident with alone,” shares British contemporary artist Anna Sudbina who has been paired with Delhi-based artist Premila Singh.
“The unique idea of getting two artists from different countries to paint on each half of the canvas is a method of starting a dialogue between two unknown minds and providing a kaleidoscopic insight to the spectator,” echoes Premila. Their finished artwork, called Divine Feminine, will be displayed as part of the preview in Mumbai.
Social media star, popularly known as ‘Sassy Sassu’ and artist Manjri Varde was paired with UK collage artist Sarah Jarrett who chose to interpret equality through nature. “At a time when we face ecological uncertainty, we find ourselves at a crossroads in the choices we make about nature, it seems more important than ever to think about equality in these terms,” says Sarah, a sentiment that Manjri echoes. “That we are one with our earth is such an inherent element I wonder how so many people don’t understand it. Sarah’s thoughts and her painting resonated so deeply with me I feel like we shared our sensibilities across oceans with ease,” Manjri says. – IANS