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Mamta Baruah Herland, is an Indian artist settled in Oslo, Norway. We can rightfully say she was one of the first few who experimented in the self-clicking picture technique which was later on to become the ‘selfie’ craze all across the world. This was in the year 2005. Her selfie craze inspired work ‘me, me, me & all about me’ got her recognition, accolades and many an awards. Sometimes a painter and sometimes a photographer, Mamta enjoys both the roles equally. Happily married to a Norwegian National, Mamta balances her personal and professional life to the core and believes everything can be blended together perfectly and can result in something very beautiful and harmonious.
SOUL brings you the tête-à-tête with the Artist who is currently in Mumbai.
- Tell us something about yourself?
I was born in the northeast valley of Assam and spent my childhood life at Laluk, in Lakhimpur district and partly in the UK in the early seventies. When I was 22 years old I had an opportunity to travel abroad and study there so I dropped out from doing my degree in Assam. I travelled more than five thousand miles leaving my home and parents in search of something different and adventurous. That country happened to be Norway, which according to me is one of the understated treasures of the world. The essence of its appeal is remarkably simple. Its breath-taking nature and landscape is perhaps one of the reasons why I was inspired with the arts of imagination and painting. Though my journey of becoming an artist has been bumpy, I am happy to have arrived at a place where I can work with creativity and have many possibilities to experiment in creating art through various medium like Painting, Photography, Digital Art, Mixed Media, Video and Sculpture.
- Since how many years have you been painting and how did it all start?
I have been practicing painting for more than 20 years. It started when I first joined Sydney college of Arts in Australia. But as a matter of fact it started much earlier when I learned to make print during my very first year in Norway in 1986 while studying at a Folkehoyskole. It’s a folk high school which invites international students for a year of unique experience in Norway offering various courses including arts and craft. I made my first compelling artwork which was in black and white linoleum cut print – a portrait of a tormenting woman that made a great impact then and I myself was very proud of it after its completion and surprised by my new found talent. However, after leaving the course I went back to pursue a degree in General Sciences as per my family’s expectations. My father was a respected Doctor who also spent some of his best years in England during the seventies. Naturally my parents encouraged us to study to become either a doctor or engineer. However, I never did enjoy numbers and formulas even in my school days in India and wanted to be a performing artist. But to become an artist was not seen as a real profession in those days hence I struggled without my parents’ knowledge for a very long time without accomplishing or succeeding until I met my husband. It was only after my marriage I took my interest in painting seriously and with his support and motivation I studied visual art in Sydney College of Arts. After returning to Norway I studied graphic design in Oslo, worked for an art magazine and took on design assignments. It was later in 2004 that I completed my Master’s degree in fine art painting from the Winchester college of Arts, University of Southampton in England. It’s since then I have been selling and showcasing my paintings internationally.
Video of the digital work…
- Tell us something about your award winning photography work?
I wanted to create something that was more than just a photo. This particular work “me, me, me & all about me” is about media and the growing culture of female obsession of their body and vanity. I took hundreds of photos of myself, which in today’s time can be termed as “selfie”, collaged and composed it to a single image as my message. I had previously participated in exhibitions in Summit V, Los Angeles, 2005 where I was honoured by the Best of Show Award, and in 2010 I got a honourable mention by MOCA, i.e. Museum of Computer Arts in New York.
Winning an award for this particular art “me, me, me & all about me” means a great deal to me as it represents acknowledgment and appreciation by the committee and by the public at large. It has not only encouraged my creativity but also given me confidence for my future work and ideas.
4. You are an Artist and a Photographer, which role do you enjoy more?
Historically, paintings have been the most used and constant forms of art, but recently, fine art photography has become more popular in the art world. Photo is connected with the reality whereas painting with imagination but both are equally imperative. I enjoy being an artist and a photographer. I don’t see them as two different roles because I like and appreciate both. In fact, they both are about imagination and creativity. Hence my intention is to implement the two mediums together to create a more diverse art.
- How did photography started? Any specific technique you use to depict the pictures?
I had learned about photography and darkroom print as part of a study at the Sydney college of Arts, visual art study in 1996. We were assigned to do black and white manual photography and later develop prints in the dark room. Although it stinks with chemicals in the lab, it’s simply magical when you first see an image appear on a once blank sheet of paper. My understanding of techniques developed further when I did my Graphic design study in Oslo where photography is integral. I have experimented with and used number of techniques depending on different concepts, but I mostly enjoy doing multiple shots and layer manipulations as I like my work to be both enigmatic that gives a sense of surrealism, and yet beautiful.
- What are your future projects? Where are you showcasing your work next?
At present there is no ongoing project in place except for some small group show participations. It has been a while since I have had big shows for wider public. As a result some of my colleagues and followers are curious of my silence and wondering what kind of secret and mysterious life I may be having now. At this point of my life I have become more interested in my bygone childhood life and in nostalgically reflecting on stories and experiences of the past, tradition, culture, concerns and causes. In short I am merely taking a brief detour to explore these ideas that hopefully will manifest into an art book or as an exhibition in the future.
- Some basic tips for our readers on being a passionate artist?
I believe every person is an artist and you don’t have to be an artist to have imagination. Seek inspiration, play and exercise your creativity, and develop your vision that can create meaning and depth in your paining, and that will turn your ideas from an abstract concept perhaps into a visible message.
Please visit www.mamtaart.com to view incredible work done by Mamta Baruah Herland .
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