Hello, could you tell us a bit about your practice?
Hello, I’m Mani Kambo I am a multidisciplinary artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne where I grew up surrounded by Sikh tradition and ritual. I’m drawn to everyday rituals and precautionary actions taken from superstitions. I create films that transport you through exploration of totemic objects and symbolic action. Through layering and editing images together I collage narratives and weave dreamscapes.
I recreate ritual gestures like drawing a black dot behind your left ear or casting a cup of water around the head in a circular motion. Recording movement and documenting performative actions – the hand that creates the action, fire that reveals, water which is the purifier and eyes that perceive. These visuals are repeated throughout my work like markers linking to notions of spirituality and belief in reincarnation.
The same creative ritualistic processes, recurring symbols and imagery are used in both my print and film works, each one feeding into the other, acting like a chain reaction.
What are you exploring at the moment?
I’m currently exploring ideas of Sigils and the Axis Mundi also known as the world/Cosmic axis which is believed to be a celestial pole between the sky and earth. I’m currently in a research period of time gathering my thoughts and ideas together as this is a huge area. I’m also going back to Cyanotypes and wanting to experiment more with tinting and changing the print colour of the outcome. I’m in the process of gathering ideas for a new short film.
Ascend Cyanotype, 2018
Have you found there’s anything in particular that has influenced you over the years? What inspires you?
A lot of my work is informed from everyday life and my upbringing, certain moments that have had significance to my life or small gestures I remember when growing up: The protection a mother casts over their child. Ideas around my own mortality and existence which I’m always questioning. Dreams also fascinate me. Watching experimental cinema has been really influential to my practice, artists such as Jean Cocteau, Kenneth Anger, Hans Richter, Luis Buñuel, Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage.
Where do you work? Could you show us a picture of your working environment?
I work from a home studio in my flat. Its not the most practical when you’re washing out prints in your bathtub but it’s cosy and means I can work any time inspiration strikes. As well as my messy studio I have a standard desk setup also so I can edit my digital work and also do research in a clearer space.
What’s on your bookshelf/what are you listening to or reading at the moment?
I listened to a great podcast the other day with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He was talking about space and infinite universes as well as skyscrapers in the US that don’t have a 13th floor because of people’s superstition.
I’m currently re-reading The Art of Cinema Jean Cocteau. Here’s a few books from my book shelf: ‘The Body: Photographs of the Human Form’ by William Ewing, ‘Short Cuts’ by Raymond Carver, ‘The Complete a to z dictionary of dream’, ‘Essential Brakhage: selected writings on filmmaker’ by Stand Brakhage, ‘Metamorphosis ‘by Franz Kafka, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ By Philip K, Dick. There’s a whole load more but this gives you an idea of my interests.
Could you give us between ten and twenty words that define your practice?
Blue, abstract, collage, projection, symbols, printmaking, colourful, cyclic, heritage, mystical, spiritual, repetition, energetic, powerful.
Hand eyes screen print
Where can people see your work?
Our last featured artist, Beth Ross, asked, “What job would you do if you couldn’t be an artist?” Could you answer Beth’s question please and think of a new one for our next artist?
If I couldn’t be an artist I’d quite like to be an art technician or school assistant in the art department.
My question for the next artist is:
What do you think is the most important driving force behind making your work/staying inspired?