Intimate Photographs Of Artists In Their Spaces At A Himachali Residency - Homegrown

Intimate Photographs Of Artists In Their Spaces At A Himachali Residency

In Kalga, the picturesque Himalayan town of Himachal, an experimental artist residency program encourages its selected participants to “explore the relationship between travel, living, culture, art and expression.” Lucky for us we connected with the young and talented Sumaiya Sayed, a participant in the 2015 and 2016 residencies hosted by KYTA (Karma, Yatri, Travel and Art). Sumaiya first went to Kalga as a visiting artist in 2015, and in 2016, she returned as a resident artist for the 3rd Annual Session of KYTA. This was the year she decided to turn her lens to her peers, capturing their personal space as artists. The program hosts 10 artists, five from India and five from abroad, spanning a variety of preferred mediums, which ensures the group is a surefire smorgasbord of skill.

KYTA’s wooden and stone residency lodge is tucked away in a hillside sprawl of towering Himalayan Cedars and Silver Firs, their long branches shading the spider web of forest footpaths the residency’s artists often frequent. The art created at this offbeat locale is usually exhibited in India’s larger cities, as well as abroad, but few get the chance to see, let alone preserve, a glimpse of these impressive creators basking in the presence of the fruits of their labour.

Sumaiya wanted to work outside of her comfort zone during the 2016 residency and developed the keen idea to not only document the creations of her contemporaries, but to also show the artists naturally interacting with the space in which their creations were conceived. To pursue this concept she had to make the artists feel comfortable around her. In a secluded village with several rusticated artists deeply contemplating their work, a-regular-old-slap-on-the-back doesn’t exactly inspire a feeling of ease. Sumaiya spent time with them, shared stories and learnt about their art, slowly bringing about a sense of comfort that usually does not make an appearance when a camera is being brandished in one’s face. As she explains, “I wanted to spend time with them, getting to know them and their work better before I started shooting the series. Most of them were very shy so it made it much easier for them to open up to me and be themselves as they would when the camera wasn’t around.”

Her next step was to study the artists’ working environments so when the time came to click her shot her sense of space would be precise. “I spent a lot of time observing the space and the light patterns, this helped me plan my shots and schedule them with the artists without asking them for too much of their time. I make sure I always tell the person there’s no need to tidy up since it’s their space and it should be as it was and not prepared for anyone else.” The natural vibe of Sumaiya’s photos is a definite strength, however, her use of space and manipulation of light really stand out in her portraits. The lodge in particular was a great prop for the series. The stained wood supporting the structure beautifully absorbed the pools of light flowing in from the rows of the many-paned windows circling the lodge.

For the next round of residents participating in KYTA’s 4th Edition of the residency, taking place on the 1st of September 2017, Sumaiya offers a snippet of advice to the future residents, urging them to “ take advantage of the diversity and collective knowledge by collaborating”. She remembers the constant flow of ideas being “ very challenging, with so many creative minds that come from such diverse backgrounds working together to create something from scratch,’ but is quick to add, ‘when the ideas combine and materialize into the final product it’s quite magical.”

And now it is time to enjoy the magic of Sumaiya’s portraits.

Fara Mulla, there's only one thing that beats the taste of chai for her, and that's the possibilities of the listening experience. Her long thoughtful walks ended up cleaning the entire village of their plastic bottles which she transformed into a little sound heaven.  Her work explores the human experience in relation to time, space, the visual and the aural. When she's not busy doing that shes the first one to make the party plans and and the treats
Fara Mulla, there's only one thing that beats the taste of chai for her, and that's the possibilities of the listening experience. Her long thoughtful walks ended up cleaning the entire village of their plastic bottles which she transformed into a little sound heaven. Her work explores the human experience in relation to time, space, the visual and the aural. When she's not busy doing that shes the first one to make the party plans and and the treats
o Voysey is the kind of person you feel like you'd want to be when you grow even when you're all grown up. I was in awe of her from the moment I learnt about her work methods and the admiration grew deeper as I got to know her even more. Every conversation with her taught me something about being an artist and a good person.  She turned a tragic experience of dealing with death into art by converting colourful pills into pigments for her paintings.  Practicing head stands together every morning got me closer to seeing the world upside down with her.
o Voysey is the kind of person you feel like you'd want to be when you grow even when you're all grown up. I was in awe of her from the moment I learnt about her work methods and the admiration grew deeper as I got to know her even more. Every conversation with her taught me something about being an artist and a good person. She turned a tragic experience of dealing with death into art by converting colourful pills into pigments for her paintings. Practicing head stands together every morning got me closer to seeing the world upside down with her.
This beautiful lady is Maria Cukorova, she completed the residency with her 8 month old son and her partner. One of the most hardworking people I've ever met, with her baby on one hip she worked every single minute she could from the moment we arrived in kalga. She is a performance artist/ illustrator/ installation artist/ she's capable of doing anything she sets her mind to.  Her works are made out of up cycled materials or fabrics she finds in attics, streets, second hand stores or  under trees.
This beautiful lady is Maria Cukorova, she completed the residency with her 8 month old son and her partner. One of the most hardworking people I've ever met, with her baby on one hip she worked every single minute she could from the moment we arrived in kalga. She is a performance artist/ illustrator/ installation artist/ she's capable of doing anything she sets her mind to. Her works are made out of up cycled materials or fabrics she finds in attics, streets, second hand stores or under trees.
Nadine Baldow, A little shy and very quiet but she has so much to say through her work. Through her colorful biomorphic structures, she creates a highly artificial kind of nature, which reveals the uncontrollable might of “mother earth”. She works mainly with artificial and alien materials to explore the discrepancy between our idea of nature and reality. She experimented with plastic for the first time at the residency and watching her work tirelessly until she finally understood the material was amazing, she became a child with a new toy for endless hours.
Nadine Baldow, A little shy and very quiet but she has so much to say through her work. Through her colorful biomorphic structures, she creates a highly artificial kind of nature, which reveals the uncontrollable might of “mother earth”. She works mainly with artificial and alien materials to explore the discrepancy between our idea of nature and reality. She experimented with plastic for the first time at the residency and watching her work tirelessly until she finally understood the material was amazing, she became a child with a new toy for endless hours.
am Heesen, a traveler and a free spirit. By the age of 12 he had already lived in 5 different countries including India before he moved back to California to study film at 15. He sees the world differently, not having a single culture to get his cues from made him a very curios child. He was always fascinated by light and was drawn to cinematography eventually. At the residency he was just a happy kid exploring different projects with other residents and building swings. .  This is the final picture from the artists in residency at kyta. It was such a pleasure spending 5 weeks in the mountains with all these beautiful beings. Thank you for letting me in your space.
am Heesen, a traveler and a free spirit. By the age of 12 he had already lived in 5 different countries including India before he moved back to California to study film at 15. He sees the world differently, not having a single culture to get his cues from made him a very curios child. He was always fascinated by light and was drawn to cinematography eventually. At the residency he was just a happy kid exploring different projects with other residents and building swings. . This is the final picture from the artists in residency at kyta. It was such a pleasure spending 5 weeks in the mountains with all these beautiful beings. Thank you for letting me in your space.
Sharath Narayan aka @cosmicattic is that gentle soul that just makes you happy to be around him. Inspired by lush soundscapes, groovy beats, the cosmos and dreamy synths. He made all his music in his little living/work space but when he played it for us all of kalga grooved to it.
Sharath Narayan aka @cosmicattic is that gentle soul that just makes you happy to be around him. Inspired by lush soundscapes, groovy beats, the cosmos and dreamy synths. He made all his music in his little living/work space but when he played it for us all of kalga grooved to it.
Rohan Joglekar, everything about this man is unreal. The kindest soul you'd ever meet. He has an amazing ability to turn his creative spaces into worlds of his own and i've been so privileged to be a part of it. He's happiest when he's in nature drawing inspiration from every insect and leaf he sees with such compassion. His mysterious mind will always keep me curious.
Rohan Joglekar, everything about this man is unreal. The kindest soul you'd ever meet. He has an amazing ability to turn his creative spaces into worlds of his own and i've been so privileged to be a part of it. He's happiest when he's in nature drawing inspiration from every insect and leaf he sees with such compassion. His mysterious mind will always keep me curious.
Sachin Shetty aka Drift, there's something about this man that is so charming and mysterious. It was impossible to pin him down to a space because he was always exploring. It was such a treat to see him return with little treasures from the forest which he would use to express himself with beautiful visual compositions. The kyta experience wouldn't have been the same without his tunes that kept us dancing in the freezing nights!
Sachin Shetty aka Drift, there's something about this man that is so charming and mysterious. It was impossible to pin him down to a space because he was always exploring. It was such a treat to see him return with little treasures from the forest which he would use to express himself with beautiful visual compositions. The kyta experience wouldn't have been the same without his tunes that kept us dancing in the freezing nights!

Check out the rest of Sumaiya’s “in their space” series as well as her other stellar work on Behance and Instagram.


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