Sangeeta Bhagawati’s linocuts are heady mixtures of a number of techniques – but all grounded in linocut.
Be it chiné-colles or collage or colouring that takes the prints into new places, the effects are always charming and with a cool, measured life of their own.
As someone who only works in one medium at any one time, I approached Sangeeta to see how the process goes for her.
Hello there Sangeeta – what are the main influences on your prints?
My practice is dictated by an urge to make motif prints by combining linoprint and chiné-colle techniques to create a palimpsest like effect. I’m very much influenced by the techniques of collage and pattern making on which I relied before turning to printmaking. I regularly incorporate chiné-colles from vintage magazine pages and Japanese origami papers into my linocuts to create the motifs and patterns I desire.
How did you come to be a linocutter?
I started with a beginner’s printmaking course in 2014. The course introduced me to all types of printmaking processes and I soon became hooked. After a year and a half I became confident to work independently and started concentrating on linocuts more.
I think it’s the best medium to work on as it gives me the freedom to play with colours. I also find it easy to combine linocuts with other printmaking techniques, especially chiné-colle.
My work’s evolved to the point where I’m concentrating solely on the potential of linocut and chiné-colle and experimenting with various types of paper to create my signature motifs.
Nature plays a key role in your work, but also the man made world?
My prints constantly highlight the interaction of human world/nature with urban life/man-made life. My series Métropole explores this plurality of modern life, parodying a patchwork style to give a feel of fragmentation.
Your colours are so restrained and well thought out – is there a lot of trial and error?
A lot – especially when I’m working on reduction prints. Sometimes the layered colours I thought would work together turn out to be otherwise. I’ve scraped and thrown innumerable prints into the bin just because I couldn’t get the colours right. I’m still learning how to make colours work.
I also like how you can do something as vivid as a human face, but also a starker piece like Métropole – do you like to alternate to keep things fresh?
Yes – a break from what I usually do is sometimes refreshing. For example, currently I’m taking a break from my linocut and chiné-colle to do a bit of monoprinting. This happens when I hit a creative block with a certain project – like when I print a linoblock and then can’t decide how to best proceed with the chiné-colle on it. This will last for a week or two and I think it’s essential as small breaks often give me some space to come up with new ideas for my main project.
What’s been your experience of selling your work – what methods do you use?
I mainly rely on exhibitions to sell my prints. I put them up on social media as well but since I mostly produce series of limited editions I prefer not to sell them via social media. I’ve been in a couple of exhibitions since 2014 and have seen good response from the crowd and sold well.
What sometimes hampers sales through exhibitions is if I’m exhibiting somewhere which is not exclusively for printmakers. In those cases, sometimes the audience doesn’t know what printmaking is and don’t appreciate the toil behind each print.
My good friends have suggested I have a small video installation in my exhibition space to show the process behind each print. Some exhibitors also exhibit their lino blocks along with their prints and I’ve learned this gets a good response.
What sort of printing set up to you use?
I basically work on an Albion press for my linoblocks and an etching printing press for my chiné-colle work. I’m a huge fan of the print room at Morley College in London. I’ve been going there since 2014 and it’s become my comfort zone as it contains everything necessary for any printmaking technique.
Plus, I get to work under my mentor David Holah who taught me the A-Z of printmaking. Sometimes I also use the print rooms of East London Printmakers as they’re very welcoming and they have quite a peaceful set-up.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished working on a series of monoprints titled Passage. I’m still deciding about the direction of my next project which will obviously include linocut and chiné-colle, and will probably include some botanically inspired prints.
Where can we see your work?