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What are artists thinking and doing? We hope you enjoy the third in our series of ‘Reflections from Home’. No.3: Rana Begum, Hackney, London.

Rana Begum, WP399, 2020, watercolour, 42 x 29.7cm

Rana Begum, WP396, 2020 watercolour 42 x 29.7 cm

‘We look out onto an overgrown Victorian cemetery. Light filters down through the tall trees into my living space. Since the lockdown started, I have been experimenting with mirrored offcuts from my fold sculptures, and also making new watercolours.

I have been reading about Agnes Martin, how she left the New York art world and went into isolation in New Mexico. She wrote:

‘Nature is like parting a curtain, you go into it. I want to draw a certain response like this… that quality of response from people when they leave themselves behind, often experienced in nature, an experience of simple joy… My paintings are about merging, about formlessness… A world without objects, without interruption.’

For me, it seems as if out of Martin’s isolation came endless possibilities in her paintings. I love how her meticulous geometries can have intense effects on the viewer. How the paintings are calming and meditative.

In contrast, my watercolours are made while home schooling my two children. There are many interruptions! Each time I am interrupted I put the brush down and then need to reload it with paint to start again, creating the darker squares.

With the watercolours, I have found myself focusing on the brush, the consistency of the paint, how I apply it and how it reacts to the paper when applied. By doing this it takes me away from any stressful situation and thoughts. Focusing on each brush mark calms me down.’
– Rana Begum, May 2020

Andrew Nairne, Director of Kettle’s Yard, writes: ‘over the coming weeks, we are asking artists we have worked with to offer their reflections from home, through images and text, at a time when millions around the world are homebound.

Jim Ede, its creator, described Kettle’s Yard as “a space, an ambience, a home”. For Ede, the home was a social place in which art and life might become inseparable. As the artist Anthea Hamilton has observed, the Kettle’s Yard House can also be understood as ‘a state of mind’. Of course, for many the concept of ‘home’ is also deeply personal, and often economic and political too, as our recent exhibition ‘Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan’, explored. For Jim Ede, who never forgot his time in the trenches in WW1, Kettle’s Yard was a welcoming sanctuary, a place of renewal and insight which could sharpen how we engage and act in the world’.

More about Rana Begum

The exhibition Actions. The image of the world can be different marked the opening of the new Kettle’s Yard in February 2018. Rana Begum was one of the thirty-eight exhibiting artists.

Click here to find out more about Actions

As part of Actions, Rana Begum installed nearly 1,000 baskets, handmade in Bangladesh, in St Peter’s Church.

Click here to find out more about the installation

Rana Begum also worked with Kettle’s Yard as part of our Art To Go series –  a series of films offering easy, creative activities for families to try at home.

Click here to watch the film

Rana Begum recently took part in the ART UK Sculpting Lives podcast series.

Click here to listen to the podcast

Image Top Left: Rana Begum, WP396, 2020 watercolour 42 x 29.7 cm

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