Tag Archives: Smriti Mehra

British Library Cyanotype Workshop: MA Fine Art Digital, Camberwell College of Arts

During the recent MA Visual Arts: Fine Art Digital low-residency, Smriti Mehra and I, Matt Lee, led a cyanotype printing workshop with students in collaboration with the British Library. The workshop began with an introduction to the process and looking at examples of cyanotypes from the British Library collection, including reproductions of blueprint maps from the Indian Office records and Anna Atkins’s self-published book of Photographs of British algae.


The morning was spent exploring the British Library archive and creating collages from an assortment of printed negatives from the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership project collection. This rich and varied material included historical photographs, illustrations, maps, iconography, typography, patterns and textures. To cite a few examples, a striking portrait of a Meccan woman in bridal attire from 1887-1888, a strangely surreal illustration of a Waqwaq tree from a 17th century Persian manuscript and landscape photographs of a Central Persian trade route from 1901. Using this diverse archive as a starting point, the students worked intuitively and conceptually in response to the images, creating juxtapositions, patterns, narratives and incorporating the technique into their creative practices. The workshop was an opportunity to play with the material to explore meaning and form. The collages were then placed on top of the photosensitive paper and exposed under UV light in a darkroom. The prints were developed, washed and rinsed to reveal vivid Prussian blue monochromatic images, which were left to dry and darken over the next twenty-four hours.


The workshop was followed by a visit to the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership project in St Pancras. Here a team of photographers, conservators, translators and cataloguers work together to make collection items related to the history of the Gulf and Arabic science available online via the QDL portal. In the conservation studio, we were introduced to paper conservation, binding techniques and shown examples of collection items undergoing conservation treatment. In the imaging studio, students were shown the plethora of specialist equipment used by imaging technicians to photograph a range of items, including Arabic manuscripts, books, loose-leaf items, maps, photographs and vinyl records. Students then shared their cyanotype prints with British Library staff, who in turn shared some of the creative projects they have worked on during Hack Days, where the imaging team respond to this historical material across different contexts. A zine by Hannah Nagle examined data and gender inequality through the collection, an animation by Renata Kaminska drew attention to damage in one manuscript caused by insects and Darran Murray’s interactive photogrammetry project of an astrolabe quadrant. The workshop and this interaction opened up a dialogue with the students of how historic material may be accessed by different creative practitioners, in different ways, making it relevant and being a valuable resource to build ideas from.


The tour ended with a viewing of a rare book of original cyanotypes by Julia Herschel – ‘A handbook of Greek Lace Making’ published in 1870. A selection of cyanotype prints from the workshop were then photographed in one of the British Library’s imaging studios. The intention is to create a zine for possible inclusion in the British Library’s permanent collection.

For artists wishing to explore the British Library collections, their Flickr account offers open access to public domain images and encourages people to explore and re-use. Images can also be downloaded from the Qatar Digital Library, which contains collection items that relate to the Gulf Region. The British Library Labs also support creative projects that use collections in innovative and inspiring ways.

Course Leader, MA Fine Art Digital: Jonathan Kearney.

Students: Alexis Rago, Betty Leung, Friederike Hoberg, Kelda Storm, Leah Yang, Matt Fratson, Taiyo Huang, Will Wright.

Underpinnings: Anna Leonowens Gallery

Shaai/Ink” – a short video that I created with Smriti Mehra will be showing at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia between 21 November – 1 December 2017.

Underpinnings: 130 Years of NSCAD
NSCAD Biennial Alumni Exhibition
Curated by Tori Fleming

Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1891 Granville St, Halifax, Nova Scotia. B3J 3J6

This year marks 130 years since Anna Leonowens first opened the Victoria School of Art in 1887. Since then, NSCAD has maintained its reputation as one the most influential art schools under many names, locations and presidents. NSCAD has provided the educational underpinnings for the studio practice of numerous significant Canadian artists, cultural workers, and creative thinkers.

For the 2017 Alumni Biennial, the NSCAD Alumni Association invited former students to reflect on the core values and pedagogy that have created the legacy for which NSCAD is known. Coordinated by NSCAD alumna Tori Fleming, this large, salon-style exhibition includes work by more than 100 alumni artists and designers.


The Bangalore Hunt, 2016


The Bangalore Hunt, 2016

Smriti Mehra, Matt Lee

Through photography, audio and text, this project shows the physical and mental journey of newly released laboratory rescue beagles and documents the search for suitable homes for them. The project offers a perspective on the use of these hounds in the present day context of Bangalore.

The series of photographs depict the arrival of the beagles at the rescue centre as they are let out of cages for the first time.

The audio piece is a conversation between a CUPA volunteer and a potential ‘pet parent’. It explains the process for adoption as well as the various problems these beagles face in adapting to their new home.

The text displayed on screen is an email sent to unsuitable candidates, which lists the reasons for their rejection.



10th -12th June, 2016
Venkatappa Art Gallery, Bangalore

The exhibits of The Bangalore Hunt included new creative work by artists who work at the Srishti Institute of Art, design and Technology, Bangalore. The art work is based on a small private archive of photographs, newspaper cuttings, annotations, letters and postcards that belonged to Stephen Simon Simmons, who was posted in Bangalore in the 1930’s. Mostly a document of the Bangalore Hunt, this collection reflects a leisure time activity for the British, who were once stationed in Bangalore’s Cantonment.

The participant artists included Raghavendra Rao, Suresh Kumar, Amitabh Kumar, Abhishek Hazra, Arnab Basu, Yashas Shetty, Alison Byrnes, Leslie Johnson, Smriti Mehra, Matt Lee, Rakhi Peswani, Pooja Kaul, Aditi Banerjee, Ayisha Abraham. The artists responded with their own images, performance, audio and video, to bring alive a collection that can at best be described historically as a strange moment in time. The new work addressed themes found in the images, such as the shift from hunting on the pastoral rural landscape, toward land-as-real estate, in today’s time, among others.

The exhibition was curated by Alison Byrnes and Ayisha Abraham.


An Artistic Hunt – Deccan Herald (13.06.2016)Deccan Herald

Bangalore Hunt – Bangalore MirrorBangalore Mirror

Now Showing


Now Showing. Semester Two, 2013–2014

Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology

Rex cinema is an old landmark of Brigade Road, Bangalore. Built in the 1940’s, it is among a handful of single screen cinemas that still stand in the city as most have now given way to multiplex theater chains. Bangalore has changed dramatically in the last two decades and landmarks that were integral to the identity of the city have been lost.

The aim of the Now Showing project at Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology has been to document the living history and collective memory of Rex cinema – to capture its glory and celebrate the space that is now slated for redevelopment. Facilitated by Smriti Mehra and me, this site-specific art project created a platform for contemplating the present reality of Bangalore in its current state of flux.

This project allowed students to locate their storytelling interests within the space as well as develop their art practice and approach to medium and material. The project began with an immersion into the space and an introduction to its network of people. Locating ourselves at the cinema enabled us to facilitate conversations with cinemagoers, staff, stakeholders, artists and scholars about Rex as well as the city in transition.

Through an understanding of context and a consolidation of initial practice-led research, students were able to develop written proposals for a personal project. In following individual lines of inquiry, students unearthed testimonies and stories around this public space and incorporated their own personal reflections and critical points of view. With the intention of furthering these discussions in the public domain, students created a range of site-specific artworks for an onsite exhibition that involved, photography, sound, image, text, video and sculpture.

Students: Adwait Pawar, Aishwarya Cariappa, Akshay Vashisht, Daniel Babu, Nihaal Faizal, Sachi Rawal, Veda Thozur Kolleri.
















Ink screening at no.w.here, London

As a part of Monitor 9, ‘Ink‘ will be screened at no.w.here in London on Wednesday 24th April 7PM – 9PM. The film screening will be followed by a discussion with panelists, including Sharlene Bamboat from SAVAC.

Local, hand drawn lithographic film posters contribute largely to the visual culture and character of the streets of Bangalore, India. ‘Ink’ is a peek into where these posters are made.

Mehra and Lee, both interact with Bangalore’s ever-changing, ever-growing residents with their multi-lingual, cultural, economic backgrounds. They serve as mapmakers; mapping the desires, hopes, needs, dreams and disparities of Bangalore, which is born out of a desire to establish reference points for personal memories.

In ‘Ink’, Smriti Mehra and Matt Lee modestly gesture towards creative resistance. Filming a commercial lithographic printing press in Bangalore for outlawed B-movie posters, Mehra and lee spotlight a simple act of defiance in the city’s underground distribution market. One after another, hand drawn lithographic film posts materialise. Opposition to existing laws is actively proclaimed, despite conservative state efforts to manage the cities visual landscape.

£3 no.w.here members, students, unemployed / £5 otherwise



Ink screening at MONITOR 9: New South Asian Short Film + Video

Ink‘, a short film that I made with artist Smriti Mehra is being screened at ‘Monitor 9: New South Asian Short Film & Video’ in Toronto.

Monitor 9 is an annual short film and video screening program that showcases new and innovative work by artists from Canada and internationally. Monitor 9 is a unique platform for independent work that brings together poignant films and videos that explore bodies in flow. Programmer Nahed Mansour, employs the notion of global flows, through which the artists negotiate various mediascapes, technoscapes, financescapes, ethnoscapes and ideoscapes in their work.

The program features works by Jude Anogwih (Nigeria), Kuljit Choohan (UK), soJin Chun (Canada), Ashim Halder Sagor (Bangladesh), Taiki Sakpisit (Thailand), Smriti Mehra & Matt Lee (India), Nguyen Tan Hoang (USA), Elisha Lim (Canada), Shreyasi Kar (India), Ahmed Faisan Naveed (Pakistan) and Pavitra Wickramasinghe (Canada).

Monitor 9 jury members include Renata Mohamed, Rehab Nazzal & Alexis Mitchell.

14 March, 2013. 7:30pm (doors 7pm).

Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave., Toronto.

SAVAC Members: FREE / Students: $5 / Non-members: $10





‘Ink’ is a short film shot at one of Bangalore’s few remaining lithographic printers, by Smriti Mehra and myself. It currently features on SHORTSNONSTOP – a year-round online mobile film festival organised by the Canadian Film Centre.