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Colin visits Sanchita Islam's Pigment Explosion Party / 12 March 2012

intricate drawing of an inner landscape, using a range of media

Detail from 'Soul on a Scroll', drawn in a variety of media © Sanchita Islam.

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Creativity is a place where difficulty and beauty can share the same bed and offer something of value. The Creative Case for Diversity is an approach - mooted by the Arts Council - in an attempt to have a conversation about how it is that Art that comes from artists outside the usual narrow definition of who can be defined an artist and what can be defined as art, is often the most original work being produced.

DAO as a platform has attempted over recent years, to open its pages up to work by artists - who may not define as disabled artists - but who produce work that has come out of an experience of disability or impairment. The exciting thing for me about this work is its intent to say something real, that comes out of lived experience.

Yesterday I saw work produced by the remarkable, unfettered imagination of Sanchita Islam (as featured in an interview with Elisabetta Marino on Creative Case for Diversity) at her Pigment Explosion Party 2. Located in the snug on the fifth floor of Shoreditch House, I walked past a pool room to find Sanchita drawing in situ, while a screen showed a digital showcase of containing work spanning 25 years of making art.

On either side of the room, displayed flat were two 30 foot long scrolls: ‘Soul on a Scroll’ and a ‘panoramic view of East London’. Covered in the most exquisite range of pen and ink, drawing and painting, the work explores a billion and more details of intertwining stories and narratives of a mind allowed to roam unrestricted.

The minutiae of details in Islam’s drawing, reminded me of a lighter, feminine Nick Blinko, more psychedelic than gothic in its influence, but nonetheless intense; especially in the reams of impossibly tiny text that becomes a textural mark-making pattern for ‘Soul on a Scroll.’ The writing assumes a quality akin to the Rosetta stone or the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Begun in 2008 as a way of emptying and calming the mind the work references classic images by Bacon, Bosch, Velázquez Goya and Da Vinci. There are a range of anatomical exercises in amongst the mountains, trees and foothills which unveil an inner landscape of truly epic proportions. There is absurdist humour in the detail. The eye suddenly settles on a phrase “I don’t like number 2” as a prequel to a sequence of drawing made of equations moving like swimmers in the tide towards the ‘Sanchita Equation.’

The second scroll on display was a 360 degree panoramic view of East London as seen from the top of Shoreditch House, before the recent railway was built. It begins with a man sitting with his back to the city and extends beyond into a freeflow of erotic goddess-type figures who pose in the sky, alongside the faces of small dogs peeping out from behind clouds. The landscape unfolds further to reveal a scene of upright dildos, resembling the ‘Fairy Chimneys’ in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Showing artwork in this way, in a non-gallery setting, makes it less formal, and more of a happening; a chance to meet the artist, hear her perform poetry and exchange meaningful conversation. I was wowed by the experience. Look out for an article from Sanchita about her work on DAO, to be published later this week…

Keywords: drawing,visual arts