DA. How did you start your career as a printmaker and what is the support that the Clark House provides for printmakers?
SG: I was born and bred in a rural area where there was no encouragement in the arts sector. As I had an inclination toward the arts my parents wanted me to study architecture. It was only then, during my academic studies, that I learnt more about the Fine Art course, and that created an exciting sense of discovery for me. Even though my parents were against it, I ended up attending the art course. In last two years of it, I found myself interested in printmaking techniques, working layer by layer patiently with woodcut. Then afterwards, the Department of Arts and Culture granted me scholarships which allowed me to travel and work in different printmaking studios for three to four years across India.
In 2010 the Clark House Initiative began with a printmaking workshop organised by Zasha Colah and Sumesh Sharma (founders) with alumni and students of JJ School of Art under the guidance of Prof. Anant Nikam. Since then they been working in collaboration with the printmaking department of JJ School of Art. I myself took part in many workshops as a student while I was doing my masters’ degree. Eventually in 2014 I became part of the Clark House Initiative.
DA: Which other medium do you work with?
SG: I like etching and drawings with watercolour and inks. As hereditary, I also work with embroidery and right now I am doing few experiments combining stitching and woodcut prints.
DA: Could you tell me more about stitching in your work? What are the qualities that you explore within this medium?
SG: I am as close to stitching as I am to woodcut as a medium. In earlier stages of my creative process I try to depict things through drawing. Then I work on woodcut prints with silk white thread but in very small areas because both mediums have their own identities that should not be lost. I use stitching like ‘floating leaf on water and white prominent line around that leaf shines’. Mixing the graphic expression (print) and the actual physicality of linear elements (thread) results in different effects such as subtle ‘shadows’ from layering them up.
DA: In your work you examine physical restrictions, boundaries and the idea of partition in the natural world. Could you tell me more about these concerns?
SG: As human being we don’t have restrictions in life but we restrict nature which has its own flowing ways. I am interested in examining how rivers, which have their own flowing way, have been “owned”, diverted and re-designed by countries, states, cities. With this I am relating other things like Bonsai Pollination Partition in my work. The dark colours of native soil and the vast span of rivers reminds me my childhood memories. And seeing the changes of a river now and then allows me to think deeply about the nature-related things to construct the ideas for my works through transparencies and layers.
DA: Has nature and landscape changed much from your childhood? Does it have any type of impact in the local community? (i.e. migrations, social- economic contrasts, unemployment, environmental issues, etc)
SG: My native place is Satara in Maharashtra state, near the confluence of the river Krishna and its tributary river Venna. It is surrounded by the mountains of the beautiful Kaas valley, which is a World Heritage site. I spent my childhood at the bank of river Krishna where we used to play. Now there is no sand at the bank and there are so many holes in the riverbed because of sand mining. Even on the bank of the river the land is filled with mono-crop sugar cane plantations. Green as they seem, they consume a huge volume of the water from the river. The water has also been diverted away from rural life to supply towns and cities. ‘Koyana’, one of the largest dams in Maharashtra, is the only one of its kind in the area. Dams and water diversion have created so many issues. Because the attachment to my native soil I started observing and collecting data about environmental issues wherever I go to.