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Tet-a-tet with artist Nidhi Jacob

1. Take us to the beginning of your story as an artist. 

I have been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember! Since childhood, I would draw and paint on any surface that could hold paint! walls, chairs, fans, clothes, trunks, plates, glasses, paper, wood, skin, metal… anywhere I could express myself. This practice continued into my adulthood.

My paintings were always an attempt at expressing my deep love for the natural world, not just through what my eyes could see… but as an interpretation of nature, imagined from my heart and mind.

Many of my paintings are a mixture of memories from childhood- Taking long walks in parks, sniffing orange Champakam flowers from flower sellers’ baskets at train stations, wanting the longest string of Jasmine, spending hours watching my mother tend to her garden and being out in nature with my grandfather who was a nature enthusiast.

2. Tell us about the evolution of your practice over the years and your commitment to your style of work

I believe in the power of collective consciousness and am always working to stay
immersed and connected to nature and in turn see my dreams for a better world manifest into reality, slowly but surely. 

Botanical art has always been my favourite form of art, so over the years, I have continuously worked on my style to find a niche space and style for myself in this genre.

To investigate the beauty of nature’s evolution – the continual cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Being inside nature – surrounded by it – and feeling close to the earth’s soil is a grounding force in both my life and work.  A Heliconia bunch, wild Lantana, or Banyan tree all lend their influence to the magical realism of my “Fantasy Garden” series. I sometimes dream of a garden and wake up to create it.
I try to spend as much time as possible just watching nature’s beautiful cycle of death and rebirth. It fascinates me to no end and is my biggest source of inspiration. From this came the evolution of my series of “pods and buds”, in watercolour.
I have even realised through these observations that I prefer being inside a jungle, under trees and bushes to looking at a scene from up on a hill or mountain. Being inside it, surrounded by it, that feeling of being close to the earth’s soil. It is so grounding.
Another part of my process is painting fantasy flowers and plants. I draw out my interpretation of a Heliconia bunch or wild Lantana or a Banyan tree and then painting that piece is the most exciting part of my work day! 
Some mornings I wake up with a memory of a garden I saw in a dream and I attempt to paint it. These, I love.”

3. What trends have you observed in the art world? How do you foresee it evolving?

Art as I see it is a record of history. Artists are archivers of history, of the times we live in and I don’t think that changes. 

I myself use nature as my subject, as a constant reminder to myself and to anyone who views my pieces that our planet is precious, it is wondrous and that we need to protect it…help it heal as much as it heals and nurtures us.

As for trends in the art world, I am not very familiar with the digital side of things, NFTs, CRYPTO etc which I should make an effort to understand. But art that creates awareness, art that spreads love and joy, art that highlights the human condition, and art that comes from authenticity is what I see evolving and going forward into the future….through music, dance, painting, writing, theatre, sculpture, films etc

4. What do you do when you’re not in front of a canvas? What do you do to unwind yourself?

I am painting almost all the time! I love what I do so much that working on a canvas is the best part of my day! Spending time outdoors with my kids, pets and partner would be second. 

My partner is a theatre practitioner, so exploring and participating in theatre and reading is a big influence in my life as well.

5. Who/ what was the motivation behind becoming an artist?

The millions of women who came before us made it possible for us as women, to be where we are today. Women change-makers, social workers, writers, artists, musicians, doctors, medicine women, journalists, therapists, healers, speakers and women that worked in all fields to make a change. They are my inspiration.

6. Please share some fond memories of your art journey. 

I conceptualised “Breathing Canvas”, a project very close to my heart, in 2016  in collaboration with documentary filmmaker and photographer, Padmalatha Ravi. It is a photo documentary of body art in an exploration of women reclaiming their bodies and creating powerful narratives within shared spaces, through the simplicity and honesty of touch, silence and breath. A wholly intimate and non-sexualised representation of the human body. This project was a turning point for me as a woman and artist.

“The Orgasm Flower Project” is another of my favourites! It is a series of flower paintings inspired by people’s writings describing what they feel or experience during orgasm. This was a wonderful experience for me to connect with strangers as well as people I knew and read their deepest desires and then create art from their writings. It was like poetry, giving shapes and colour to their words.

7. What are your future plans?

To create more work, better, more, authentic work.

I am presently working on a long list of commissioned pieces and a few interesting projects are in process. I am excited and looking forward to a few shows that are lined up as well. 

Thanks to all the amazing human beings I have chosen to work with, my friends and family that are my cheerleaders and supporters, the journey continues. 



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