February 2018

The winter of our discontent always leads to spring – interview with AA2A artist Baljinder Kaur

February 28, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

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Baljinder's art

Sandra Cope and I, AA2A student reps at the University of Wolverhampton, recently met with Baljinder Kaur, one of this year’s AA2A artists-in-residents based in Wolverhampton to talk about her practice and reflect on the creative life.

Baljinder’s background is in illustration. Prior to starting up her residency, she was working (and still is) as a freelance illustrator. Before that, she did a graphic design and illustration degree at De Montford University in Leicester.

Her interests lie mainly in the field of children’s literature. However, talking to her it became clear that perhaps overarching that interest she is an observer of people and community. She likes drawing, painting and depicting people. She is also fascinated with culture, an interest which is partly based on her personal experiences with culture. In particular, through her work she questions what it means to have a blended culture which comprises of tradition and contemporary elements and what time and history do to a culture and to traditions within that culture.


We discussed the ideas she has for projects she is pursuing while at Wolverhampton. Like many artists, she has a few ideas on the go and lots of thoughts running concurrently, all vying for attention. At this point which is the middle of her residency, she has a few ideas bubbling. In terms of technique, she has been experimenting with blending skilled and traditional methods of artistic expression, in particular, printing and drawing from life, with modern and digital methods of manipulation of colour and texture impression. She is investigating the idea of combining traditional approaches of mark making with digital methods. There is a parallel between the traditional and the contemporary in terms of a cultural understanding in her practice. ‘Time’ is the word that comes to mind. She is all about observing time passing and the effect of that on people and communities.

Finally, we talked about the nitty gritty of a creative career and a creative life, noticing a similarity in the life-span of each art project and the importance of time to reflect when engaged in any project. At the time of our meeting, it is winter, and in fact it was snowing. Winter, we decided, is the period of limbo and stasis for an artist (and perhaps for many people). But this is a natural part of the artistic process, this is the time to gather the various threads that have been bubbling and simmering for a while and soon it will be time to run with the strongest thread. However, winter causes uncertainty (and we all feel it) so life would be better without winter, we decided. Or perhaps not. Maybe winter is indeed necessary, it fosters a time for reflection. Still, winter has been going on for a while now.

Roll on Spring!

Sandra and I are looking forward to seeing what threads of her work Baljinder decides to run with. She is hoping to exhibit her work towards the end of her time in Wolverhampton.

A world devoid of colour - what is it all about?

February 28, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

Since the summer, I have become obsessed with a world devoid of colour. This is particularly odd given that I have synaesthesia. Taking away colour from someone with synaesthesia is almost impossible but that is what I have been trying to do, to myself. The result has been very interesting so far.

Fried Egg

For the last six months I have almost exclusively been using just two tubes of paint: a black one and a white one. I have been filtering all my photographs with black and white. I have been making videos in black and white. I have been drawing with just a black fine liner pen. 

I have found the experience quite liberating. Rather than colour dominating my art making, and the decisions associated with using colour, I have been considering in much more depth the effect of colour when it is extracted from the creative experience on shades of grey and other elements of a painting such as tone, depth, light, texture. These are elements that might get overshadowed when painting in colour. There is a huge amount of subtlety in the grey scale which I am just now beginning to appreciate.

As a by-product to this experiment, I find that I have an urge to surround myself in a monochrome world in my every day life. I need to know: why do we envisage a world lacking in colour as a world devoid of joy? Is that in fact true? I am finding a new richness and pleasure in my desire for a black and white world. Is that contradictionary?

I have found that painting objects in black and white has enabled me to see them with a new, rather esquisite, clarity. They are more tangible somehow, richer and more 'real' to me. Rather than translating black and white images into colour in my mind's eye, I am now translating coloured objects into black and white. 

The bigger question that I see coming from this is if you take away one element from an object, such as tangibility (show it online), texture (blur it, abstract it), colour (render it in monochrome) are you in fact giving it a new richness, a new 'tangibility' that it didn't have before?

Why do we assume that the 'prefect' image, or even the 'object' in its original form and within reach, is the best rendition of that object? What would Plato say about that?