Talk Tuesday: John Moores 2016 artist, Sneh Mehta

Sneh Mehta was selected to exhibit in John Moores Painting Prize 2016 with her painting, ‘Him & Her’. Mehta's acrylic painting shows two heads whose features are bound and hidden, creating a stifling effect. We caught up with her to find out more about how she works.

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What made you enter the John Moores?

It is a hugely respected, prestigious and popular prize amongst painters in the UK. John Moores is a gauge for your own work in the context of what is happening in painting across the country.

How does it feel to be a selected artist for the John Moores?

It is a great honour, privilege and a dream come true for me to be selected. The selection is an affirmation and validation of one’s work and will also have the benefit of my work being exposed to a wider audience. To be shown with all the other artists who have been selected historically and currently in the beautiful Walker Art gallery is a humbling and gratifying experience.

Tell us about your studio?

I work at Brickfield Street Studios in Bromley-by-Bow. It is a 1960's building that printed The Socialist Worker, the Morning Star and Private Eye and was converted into studios.  My studio is a space for thinking, dreaming, being playful, for experimentation and a space of revelation. It is my sanctuary. As Leonardo Da Vinci said, it is a site in which "you belong entirely to yourself."

What inspires you?

Scientific theories, biology, travel and 'paint' as a material itself. The slippages and accidents that occur during the process of painting provides inspiration and take my work in surprising and new directions.  Drawing is another important tool for ideas which otherwise would not manifest themselves. New technologies have also made visible the micro and the macro forms that exist in the world around and have been a great source of inspiration for my work.

Sneh Mehta standing next to her work 'Him & Her'
Sneh Mehta standing next to her painting 'Him & Her'. 

Why paint?

I have always drawn and painted from a very young age. I started out as a graphic designer but have been painting since 1994. I prefer painting as a medium because it has an element of unpredictability. You set out to do something but end up making something else that surprises you and presents new aspects of our reality. It slows down time in our fast moving Information Age and affords some time for reflection. Like music, painting provides food for the soul.

What do you hope visitors will take away from your work in the John Moores? Do you hope for a certain reaction?

‘Him & Her’ is a work about a couple’s turbulent relationship. I would like the viewer to feel this turbulence when they look at the work. I am trying to convey the intangible emotions and complexities of this relationship via the tangible medium of paint.