Aug 7, 2011

Sba Shaikh, The Personas of Mehraj, Part 2

This year, one of Mehraj's personas, Bollywood actress and socialite Malekha Mehraj will be showcasing her work with an installation based on the peacock feather.

1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2011 E17 Art Trail. Did you respond to this year’s theme “On Your Marks”? What impact do you think the Olympics will have on E17?
“Hi guys, Malekha Mehraj here, this is my debut on the E17 Art trail 2011 and you know what, it’s been superb and mind blowing to see so much creativity and art within
Walthamstow, London.

Thanks to Carien from Vestry House Museum/William Morris Gallery for giving me this opportunity to showcase some of my work. How life has changed from being a Bollywood actress in the 1980s and 1990s to the present where I am now an artist showing my some of my work on the E17 Art trail 2011.

The medium I use mainly is textiles however with this work I wanted to bring a simple but slightly contemporary, kitsch feel to the installation with the centre piece of the exhibition being The Peacock Chair. The chair has been influenced by the art of Princess Makarim Mehraj, the foster daughter of the great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The Princess, who I recently discovered I am a decendent of, was also a artist within the Hareem, and the 4th Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s Peacock throne was incrusted with precious and semi precious jewels.

The Peacock Chair will be installed at the beginning of the Trail. However, part of the installation will be up by the end of the first week of August and I will be working on the backdrop at The Vestry House Museum as a live installation. I am planning to be there on Tuesday 9 August 2011, nevertheless please contact me so I can confirm this and the timings.

If you do see me there working please don’t be shy, come and say hi!”

I will also be doing a mug painting workshop on the evening of 9 September. I have a limited amount of mugs so first come first served!

Why the peacock feather?
I have always been struck by the beauty of the peacock’s colours and feathers. I decided that this year that I would like to express this admiration through my second alter ego “Malekah Mehraj”.

On your Marks…
The only response would be that I started early, making the pieces and planning the installation. Thus I am now enjoying working towards the trail and not panicking, although there is still lots more to do!

2. What challenges (if any) did you face in realising this work?
As usual I have no studio – both my poor dining room and table are suffering!

3. What do you like about E17 and why? Is there anything you would change about the area?
A cinema or theatre would really be nice in the ‘Stow. For more about why I like the ‘Stow, have a read of my 2009 and 2010 blog entries.

4. Who and/or what inspires you?
This year it’s the Peacock.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Believe in yourself and be confident in your practice. Don’t be frightened or worried by all the other talent out there – just get a little bit competitive. If you are passionate about what you do, nothing else should matter or will stop you and Success will come! Gain knowledge by reading about your practice and visiting exhibitions and galleries (as other artists have said on the E17 Art Trail Blog).

Most of all, enjoy your passion!

The Personas of Mehraj, Part 2, is on at Vestry House Museum, Vestry Road, from now until Sunday 11 September.
See more of Mehraj's beautiful work here.

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