Hello! It is our pleasure to have a chat about your work as an artist. First of all, what is your name, and how old are you? What are the primary mediums you work with?
My name is Sabrina Shah, and I am 34 years old. I am British and currently live in London. I primarily work with oil and acrylic paint, although I started using collage and experimenting with screen print/encaustic onto canvas.
Tell us about your beginnings as an artist.
I think that in many ways, I am still discovering and realising what being an artist is about; every day I learn something new. I do know that I have always been trying to build my life around my practise. And I have always wondered why things are how they are from and early age, and that curiosity is still what drives my practise today.
What about your creative process?
My process isn’t very predetermined; indeed it is one of the features of my creative process that I am able to move from place to place, taking my art with me and learning as I go. I currently work out of a studio in London; the studio has a nurturing vibe. I believe in finding an environment that doesn’t feel too forced, but also has some feelings of being at home, a studio can be a huge part of the creative process for me – being with others who don’t mind doing their creative thing day in and day out! The studio I currently work out of used to be an old homeless shelter. Sometimes places that have a history inspire me, as do unusual groupings of people. Creating is a need for me for sure, it’s also a want, a desire, a burn – but it’s also a challenge that throws light on other needs and thoughts.
How would you define/describe yourself as an artist?
I don’t necessarily feel proud of work, but I do feel a sense of completeness when some of the work speaks a truthfulness that maybe I have been afraid to vocalise in any other ways. I am most proud when I have been able to cut time out of my schedule to paint – to paint constantly for two weeks at a time. That doesn’t always make me feel great, but I do feel like having time / allowing myself even more time is a key part of my goal searching. I like to think my work questions/looks at human behaviour in relation to resilience and determination, how people overcome the most surprising/unfortunate events or a fear of social situations and judgement. I have been inspired in the past by the food cycle, religion, and the concepts of birth and resurrection.
What INSPIRES you (artists, movements, people, styles, etc.)?
I’m inspired by a dialogue around contemporary painting and its relationship to philosophy, as well as being inspired by characters that have a burning story to tell. In a way, I am addicted to surprising myself with myself through painting. Inspiration can come from a space, a place, but more than likely a person. A person saying / doing something that gives courage and enthusiasm. Someone that has overcome adversity and was not afraid to take risks.
Is there a story that you can share, a work you are proud of, an exhibition that received particularly good feedback?
Sometimes I am proud of myself for making decisions and believing in it. This is hard for me. One of the most difficult decisions that I recently had to make was choosing to take some time out from the college where I had, until recently, been studying; this has come just before my degree show. This decision brought up all sorts of questions for me, and many conflicting answers due to the situation of the pandemic and leaving one’s peer group. The main thing for me is to trust myself and my decisions. Whether in a painting or in life, I am fairly reactive/ responsive. I am most proud of work that has a sense of conviction, despite the layers of history underneath. There is not always a right decision, but if you believe in it, then it can count for something.
How being in isolation -due to the pandemic - has affected you related to the art practice?
It affected my studies and therefore my studio space, but there has been a number of positive things, like finding new ways to connect and allowing my work to think and focus more on a kind of hope. It’s allowed for a fight or flight response in some ways, that can make for interesting work. During this time, I’ve realised even more so how important painting is to me.
Why should the audience/collectors be interested in your works? Is there a specific message you would like to spread?
My work is something that I do in order to learn about myself and I hope to share that with others. I hope my work gives others a desire to play around with paint, to be vulnerable, or to do what they have to in order to discover more about themselves. I have a passion to paint and create and to be immersed in a world that brings both internal and external factors together. I’d hope that anyone looking at my work could find questions just as much as they would find answers.
If it is not a secret… Do you have any current or future projects in mind?
I have a couple of projects coming up in St. John The Baptist church in Shepherd’s Bush. This idea developed from the need to do something interesting in a different place/ space that is not a gallery. I also intend furiously for the next six months and connect with other painters whose work I admire. That’s my plan!