Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Great Outdoors - Interview with Reena Makwana

1. Tell us about your practice as an artist.

I am an illustrator working with a mixture of embroidery, drawings and objects. I make work inspired by people in their environment, human behaviour and superstitions in the modern world. I find inspiration in jowly-faced women who read Heat, Closer and Look magazine one after the other on local bus services with their pug in their bag, ready to go into the town centre to play music on their keyboard.

2. What is your work for 'The Great Outdoors' inspired by?

I took walks and bus journeys around where I was living in Camberwell, photographing people and then making drawings of them. I wanted to capture quiet moments of ‘The Great Outdoors’ in an urban environment. There’s a lot going on, people going to East Street market, waiting for the 185 to Victoria, trying to avoid male harassment in the street or bumping into an old friend. I documented the hustle and bustle of Walworth Road, the area around Camberwell Green and Coldharbour Lane on my walk home to Southwell Road. I have created three embroideries, one from each of these journeys.

3. Have you got a particular memory of your experience of the great outdoors that you would like to share?

One of my friends from college got married four years ago in the village of Linton in Yorkshire. We camped on private land that night and I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to go for a wee all the time due to the sound of a river. I walked around the village cloaked in my purple checked blanket before sunrise to make time go quickly. However, after a bit, I was approached by a policeman while walking in the field we were camping in. Instead of telling us off, he took my details. It turns out some concerned members of the village had reported a young woman walking around. I think they thought I was a crazy person.

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