20/43 ‘Urban Life: Urban Art’ Exhibition June 2015
Meha Hindocha: ‘I’m hoping I’ve found the balance that people can relate to’
The contemporary artist talks about Manchester, school trips and Where’s Wally You’re currently working on urban cityscapes.
How did it all start?
I’ve always loved drawing architecture, always doodled when I’m travelling. It’s easy to whizz by places and not absorb them. I like to stop and spend time in each place and really observe them. I guess I’m really aware of my environment. Manchester is obviously a key city for you. Tell me about that. Since leaving Kenya in 1999, I’ve always moved around a lot and then settled in Manchester with my sales job. Art was a passion but it wasn’t my job. I finished an illustration course and started learning more art techniques. I spent a lot of my evenings painting quite ‘emotional’ art.
What’s ‘emotional’ art? Are you still working like that now?
There’s no control with ‘emotional’ art. It’s more therapeutic. The Manchester piece is controlled throughout. It’s planned. I spent so long planning, doodling and then it all came together. I used to be very insular. This year I’ve asked for lots more suggestions about my art. I’ve asked loads of questions and realised I didn’t really know the city that well.
How did you find that process?
Everyone has opinions about everything! It involves people more in the art. It’s almost like it’s not mine and that everyone has a claim to it. It’s good that other people have a say and that it’s not self involved like some art can be. It’s a learning process that continues after the art has finished. I’m still talking about Manchester now! Learning about the history of Marx and communism at the Salisbury was really cool. The way Manchester has dealt with change throughout history is fascinating. It seems that you have a wide range of influences and you’re actively seeking them out.
Have you always been like that?
When I was younger, Salvador Dali was it. And Jackson Pollock I suppose you can see in the backgrounds. And Rothko. Not so long ago, I was in South America and I found this artist called Oswaldo Guayasamin. He did these paintings of figures with massive hands. There are a few drawings of hands in the Manchester piece. There are so many other influences now… Street art is everywhere too. It’s endless.
Going back even further, do you remember being similar as a child?
I remember school trips that we went on. It was always nature and I’d do drawings of trees and plants. We had to draw from real life, it was really strict. I still do that now. And now you’re here, your first exhibition.
I think I’ve found the balance… I’m hoping I’ve found the balance that people can relate to. Cities are easy for people to ‘get’. Abstract art can be difficult sometimes. I like putting all the little bits in and incorporating all the research and all the conversations I’ve had. I feel like I’ve never seen Manchester before. It’s all the things I see alongside other people’s suggestions. And when people see it they’re like “Ah! I’ve never noticed that!” You know, how observant are we? It’s a bit cryptic too.
How do you expect people to react to your most recent images then?
It’s almost like your teasing them! It is a little bit of teasing people. It’s a little bit like a Where’s Wally image with all the little bits to spot. It’s fun. Most people say it’s very unique. I hear ‘clever’ a lot too! [Laughs].
Meha Hindocha at The Perk, Didsbury, The venue for her exhibition 20/43 ‘Urban Life: Urban Art’.