In this expat community I meet people from all around the world and I’m constantly awed by their stories and talents.
I first met Shweta Rastogi at our local “Handmade in Hong Kong” market in Discovery Bay.
I bought a beautiful painted wooden vase from her that, when I move back to Dublin, will sit on my shelf and remind me of the wonderful years when I called Hong Kong home – made all the more special since I have gotten to know the artist.
I learned that Shweta also gave art classes and I signed up my two daughters with “Miss Shweta” – they love it!
I was dropping my girls to their art class one day and I saw an unfinished painting in the room – turns out Shweta is a talented artist herself.
I very much enjoy art, I don’t pretend to know much about it but I know what I like and what meaning I get from it.
I like to think that I have a creative mind but my creative talents certainly don’t translate to the world of art. Being completely honest, I struggle to draw a straight line with a ruler……
So, I am very much in awe of artists who, through their painting, can tell a story, share a memory or evoke emotion from those who look on it.
I recently went to see Shweta’s work in the “Inward & Outward” exhibition. Her paintings portrayed some very striking and memorable ladies and I very much enjoyed chatting with her about the stories behind the paintings.
So, I thought that I would put a few questions to Shweta to get to know the artist behind the art.
Is there a message that you want to deliver through your art?
I can say that I am an impressionist.
Art is beautiful and is a very strong medium to deliver one’s thoughts and to spread awareness.
My artworks are reflections of my thoughts and beliefs in spirituality, emotions and social issues.
There is always something deep to convey….just stand there for few seconds and it will speak out its heart to you.
How did your journey as an artist begin?
The journey started from draping clothes and sketches during my fashion designing times.
Also, helping my kids with school projects, has always been challenging and exciting.
Being a self-taught artist was an expedition, a journey of not only proving myself but also self-exploration and discovering my own strengths.
From emulating the references to creating my original art pieces, it was a bumpy ride full of struggles and endless sleepless nights.
To enrich myself, I started attending different art shows. I used to stand in front of the paintings for hours, with my eyes penetrating each and every layer of colour, reading textures and strokes and then coming back with my mind full of ideas to try my hands on.
Tell us about your latest exhibition.
My latest exhibition ” Inward & Outward” was with NIDO ASIA art gallery, where I displayed select art work on human emotions.
This was very well received by art lovers and loved ones.
I was also approached by Garden Meows at PMQ during the show, and my works then got displayed there.
Which is your favourite piece in this exhibition?
Asking an artist for her favourite art work is like asking a Mom about her favourite child…too difficult to answer!
The process of painting is like nurturing a baby right from the day of its birth .
I love all my works as they are my beliefs in different shapes and colours.
But if I have to select one to talk about here, then it will be “Where is my Sunshine?” which has a very beautiful message on supporting a girl child.
What was your inspiration or the story behind this painting?
This one portrays the sound of the inner soul of a girl child, who is deprived of various human rights like equality and education.
She is inside a dungeon, with no windows and lights, symbolising a world without education, happiness, peace, safety and freedom for her.
The sun is shining brightly outside but the poor child can see only a glimpse of it.
There is a key to the door which is easily accessible to us in society. It can help bring the girl to the world outside. However, it is too far away from the girl’s reach.
The persistent inequalities cripple the lives of millions of women and girls even today. 31m girls are still out of school, and females constitute 2/3’sof the total illiterate population in the world, as per UNESCO.
As a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Like millions of girls, I was always fascinated by fashion and glamour.
Coming from a conservative family, I knew that becoming a model was not a choice.
So, I lived my dreams by becoming a fashion designer.
What is the first picture ever that you remember drawing or painting as a kid?
I was always good at art and craft in school. I never received any accolades for my studies but I never came back empty-handed from any art competition in school.
When my siblings were reading books in their free time, I was always with a pencil and paper busy making patterns or some drawings.
It is so hard to remember the first one, as I started it at a very young age.
If you could travel anywhere in the world just to paint, where would you go?
Ahh……the first place that comes to my mind is Paris.
I was fascinated by the art museums, the architecture, the glamour, and above all with the focus on art!!
But perhaps, I would still go back to my homeland India, as all the values and beliefs that are reflected in my paintings today are deeply rooted inside me because of my time spent there.
India offers a hugely diverse cultural, social and scenic experience that an artist can use to reflect in the painting.
Thank you Shweta for letting us peek behind the painting!
It was “Where is my Sunshine?’ that particularly struck me at your exhibition and evoked strong emotion from me. I immediately felt the little girl’s sadness and the injustice. A great representation of a very real problem in the world.
If you want to check out more of Shweta’s work and hear about upcoming exhibitions, you can follow her on facebook:
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Thank you xx