This past summer after trekking around New York state for a month I hopped across to London. I used to live in London when I was doing my masters. It was the city that made me not able to shut up about public art and I wrote my thesis on art in public spaces.
To be invited to come back and paint in that same city and on that street where I'd spotted my first Roa and fallen in love was a bit of a mindfuck. But a lot has changed this year and so have I.
Curated by Cedar Lewisohn, Breaking Cover, the street art section of Shubbak,invited 3 artists from the middle east for public space interventions,as they call them. I painted first at the White Cross street party where I quickly met some local artists and spent the rest of the day painting and chatting in the sun to wander back to my hotel at 3am with a head full of sheer joy and buzz.
The second piece was the Southbank. This was my spot. During my year of research I inevitably ended up here almost every day and my boyfriend at the time knew this was where in London to find me. Hanging with the buskers and the skaters and sitting stooped on sidewalks with my sketchbook. It's one of my favorite spots in the world. And I loved working amongst the graf rather than painting it white and sterile. My friend Sya One says it could be a sort of 'burn'. (graf terms. I'm new school). The thrill of working with skaters buzzing about, kids pointing, the characteristic slightly unbearable stench of urine in the corner all made it exactly what it was about. The here and now. Being present. Being alive. Celebrating a moment with a big, bad bird.
The last piece was on the corner of Brick Lane and Hanbury Street. I had lived not far from Brick Lane, knew it well. It was one of those places I fit in by default being Indian (even though everyone is Bengali it's all the same to many) but at the same time completely foreign with Dubai as my home. The piece is a piece of a journey I've been on this year. The one where I remember that in all the chaos, all the mechanical everydays, all the sameness and indifference, "Don't forget your heart".
There's a lot of details in there that again make it very here and now. One night as I painted between midnight and 4am (which I had to do as the restuarant owner wasn't so keen..) Cedar asked if I was tired or wanted to keep going. I looked at him and said "I dont know Cedar. Look the birds have bags under their eyes".
There are stories in the stories in my work. They're not always obvious and I'm ok with that because I like telling them. They speak about the moment and they speak about something timeless and true.
In the in-between moments, the mundane and the cheap thrills, don't forget your heart.