Rowan Arts Blog
Islington Exhibits: Natasha Bhatia at Map Gift Shop
Tuesday 30 July 2013
by Hatty Davidson
Map Gift Shop on Junction road is a treasure trove of objects ranging from the beautiful and intricate to the witty and comical. It caters for every last minute panic; birthday presents, thank you cards, stocking fillers, wedding gifts and more, this little grotto has all you need. However, until recently, the shop did not provide for the art-lovers of the area. This changed when Islington Exhibits approached the small business to provide a venue for two artists, one of whom was artist Natasha Bhatia, and the collaboration couldn't have been more of a success.
Natasha's photographs deal with the themes of identity and the uniting of separate worlds. Being from a mixed heritage (her father is Indian, her mother is from Essex), has given her insights into two very different worlds, both of which she feels a part of. She goes to India every year and her camera always comes with her, 'the streets of India have always been such a magical place to me', she says, 'though my Aunts, who live there, do not see it and do not understand why I want to take a picture of a ripped poster or an overturned bus!' When you see the prints, however, the reason is clear; the images that Natasha captures find elegance and abstract beauty in the disheveled streets. When asked if she feels like a tourist on her annual visits she replies simply, 'only behind the camera, but not in my heart.' This natural affinity with the country is clear and yet through her work she sheds a new light on a country that she feels so at home in.
The photographs have pride of place in the shop's main window and it has been a huge draw for passers by, indeed a number of the works have already sold and there is talk of extending the exhibition for another week. When asked why the collaboration has been such a success Natasha believes it is the uninhibiting feel of the shop;
'People have said they want to buy art but don't know where to go and sometimes galleries can feel intimidating. Map, on the other hand, is familiar and accessible, people are not worried about walking in and asking questions and this makes all the difference.'
Additionally, having sold many of her prints and had wonderful feedback, Natasha says it has also given her confidence in her work. So, the future looks bright for both the artist and the venue. Natasha is looking to develop her work into different mediums and she is currently experimenting with collage using bindis and old English newspapers from as far back as 1904. Thematically she is also delving deeper into the theme of identity by considering taking her work down a more political route. Map Gift Shop's owner, Ian, is also keen to keep this kind of collaboration going as he says it has brought a whole new commercial aspect to his business.
This kind of prosperous cooperation between artists and venues, where long-lasting and prosperous relationships are forged, is exactly what Islington Exhibits is all about and we hope to see many more artists exhibiting at Map in the near future.