Art / Artist of the Month

Artist of the month: Chitra Merchant

By lowie trevena, Friday Mar 29, 2019

Chitra Merchant grew up in India and currently works as an artist in Bristol, living on the outskirts of the city in Kingswood. Through Bristol24/7 and Hidden Gallery, she is selling Night – IX, one of a limited run of 30. The artist utilises a range of techniques to create her unique, abstract pieces and the exclusive print is available to buy in Bristol24/7’s shop.

The local artist is based in Bristol but is currently creating new work while in India

As a form of research, drawing is a vital role in her making process. Drawings are either left as artworks in themselves or are transposed into print.

Chitra mostly works with screenprinting to produce her artwork. She explains it as “a form of printmaking that involves making a stencil and printing it through a frame over which a fine, polyester mesh is tautly stretched.

“Using a squeegee, the ink is sheared through the screen mesh onto a substrate like paper, board, ceramic or fabric. Different stencils are made for each colour and the image is gradually built up layer by layer. It’s a fine art process.”

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Growing up in India, Chitra decided to explore the world outside her home country after completing a degree in psychology and travelled to west Africa. During her time there, she worked in an artist’s studio, before coming to England and completing a degree in illustration at UWE in the early 1990s.

In 2001, she started working at Spike Print Studio where she is still based. From there, she is involved in printing, exhibiting, teaching and working on regular commissions.

When asked what her most notable moment has been as an artist, Chitra says: “Showing work in the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition in 2018.” One  of her upcoming projects is also  for the Royal Academy of Arts:  “I’ve been commissioned to do a print which will be launched this  year at the London Original Print Fair,” says Chitra.

The artist is currently working abroad: “I’m in India researching the landscapes and traditions of the ‘devakad’, tracts of forested land in the Western Ghats that are deemed as highly sacred.

“Local custom dictates that no one is allowed to forage or cultivate within these spaces because they  are protected and presided over  by deities. “

Her upcoming projects will be influenced by her travels: “Apart from being a model for biodiversity and conservation, I am interested in these spaces for their wildness and inherent mystery and I aim to make a body of work that reflects this.”

Chitra Merchant is selling ‘Night – IX’ through Bristol24/7 and Hidden Gallery

Chitra’s Night – IX is a limited edition silkscreen measuring 30cm x 39cm. The piece will cost £135 (unframed)/£225 (framed) through www.bristol247.com/shop. 50 per cent of the purchase goes towards Bristol24/7’s Better Bristol initiative.

Read more: Artist of the month: Fuller

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