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Sugar Cane Factory

Chalk on paper, 55 x 85cm.

Cement Palms

Chalk on paper, 24 x 30cm.

Parking

Oil on Canvas, 31 x 31cm.

Jor Bagh

Oil on Canvas, 27 x 27cm.

Delhi Jungle

Ink on paper, 83 x 118cm.

Offerings

Ink on paper, 62x86cm.

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Showcase 12 Jul 2017

CQ Interviews: London-based artist Tyga Helme finds colour inspiration in India.

London-based contemporary artist Tyga Helme is no stranger to India. Having studied at The Royal Drawing School in London, Tyga found herself in India as part of a Teaching Residency with the International Institute for Arts in Modinagar in 2016. In 2017, she did a Nari Gunjan/Artreach Teaching Fellowship at Patna, India. Along with three other fellow artists including Christabel Forbes, Lottie Stoddart and Matthew Cunningham, she recently had her work displayed in an exhibition titled Turmeric: Four British Artists in India at the Daniel Raphael Gallery in London. According to the press release issued by the gallery, “The work is strikingly colourful, using turmeric as a base coat for much of the paintings which gives the pieces a somewhat otherworldly, evocative glow. It was this inclusion of the spice in the works, and the cultural links associated with it that led to the show’s title, Turmeric.” We had a chat with Tyga about her experiences in India and how they inspired her new works. Edited excerpts:

Could you tell us about how the Modinagar residency came into being in the first place?

The residency is open to the alumni of the Royal Drawing School and allows the chosen artists to teach at the International Institute of Fine Arts in Modinagar, Uttar Pradesh. Lottie Stoddart, Christabel Forbes, Mathew Cunningham and I were chosen based on our portfolio of work and our teaching experience. Alongside teaching, we were given studio space in Delhi and time to develop our personal artistic practices. 

The show at Daniel Raphael gallery is a culmination of our residency and brings together much of the work and experiences we shared in India. We are all brought together in our dedication to drawing from life, using the world around us as a springboard into our work.

Sugar Cane Factory

Chalk on paper, 55 x 85cm.

What were some of the biggest inspirations during your stay in India for the residency?

It was incredible to live in this industrial town, wholly without tourists. It was a chance to see somewhere I would never have visited otherwise and really settle into the normal daily routine of life in an Uttar Pradesh town. Teaching the painters at the art school was another highlight, and a real privilege. The students were so keen to think about new ways of looking and working. We had been taught by incredible teachers at the Royal Drawing School and it was great to be able to pass on some of that learning.

Cement Palms

Chalk on paper, 24 x 30cm.

Tell us a bit about the work you created inspired by this experience.

My work is inspired by life, from walking, exploring, and returning to places many times. Drawing lies at the heart of my practice. I couple the spontaneity and importance of the moment with often returning to places over and over again.

Parking

Oil on Canvas, 31 x 31cm.

I took my sketchbook everywhere I went in India and drew from life. I am drawn to the complexity and pattern in my work, and found myself exploring the relationship of nature with the buildings, factories and streets of India. I then made these paintings back in the studio. I also did chalk and ink drawings outside from life, which are finished pieces in themselves.

Jor Bagh

Oil on Canvas, 27 x 27cm.

You exhibited the work along with the other three artists at Daniel Raphael Gallery - how did the exhibition come together?

We all wanted to exhibit together as we had shared the same experience and had worked alongside each other for an intensive time. We lived together, taught together and shared studio space together - sharing ideas, and making sense of the world around us together. We had all studied at the Royal Drawing School so we all came from a similar love and preoccupation of drawing from life. If there had to be one thing that brought us together it would be drawing.

Delhi Jungle

Ink on paper, 83 x 118cm.

Offerings

Ink on paper, 62x86cm.

Tyga Helme and the other three artists have crafted the essence of their myriad experiences and inspirations during their Modinagar residency in India through ‘Turmeric’. We hope to see their exhibition sometime soon in India.