Apollo
Interviews

In the studio with… Rana Begum

14 April 2021

Rana Begum’s work blurs the boundaries between painting, sculpture and installation. In exploring the relationships between colour, light and form, the Bangladeshi-born artist draws on a range of influences – from the geometric patterns of Islamic craft and design to the Western traditions of constructivism and minimalism. Begum lives and works in north-east London, where she recently moved into a new home and studio overlooking a cemetery. A solo exhibition of her work opens at Kate MacGarry at the end of this month (30 April–6 June).

Where is your studio? 
Hackney.

What do you like most about the space?
I love the location, the community and the view.

What frustrates you about it?
The mosquitoes. I’m right next to a cemetery, which has lots of trees. It means we cannot always have the doors open.

No. 1033 Diptych (2020), Rana Begum

No. 1033 Diptych (2020), Rana Begum

How messy is your studio?
It’s very messy at the moment. I’m trying to get ready for the show with Kate [MacGarry]!

What’s the weirdest object in there?
Hmm… there’s nothing weird in the studio yet. I have strict rules about hoarding.

Which artistic tool could you least do without?
Everything is essential in the studio: I have to think hard before acquiring new tools because of wanting to keep the space clear.

What’s the most well-thumbed book in your studio?
Agnes Martin.

Do you cook in the studio?
I got into making a healthy soup once a week, with lots of turmeric and ginger, but everyone got sick of that! I need to find something new and easy to make.

No. 1040 Diptych (2020), Rana Begum

No. 1040 Diptych (2020), Rana Begum

What do you listen to while you’re working?
I like to listen to podcasts or a mix of ’80s and international music.

Do you ever sleep in your studio?
Those were the days. Not anymore. Because of my children I have limited working hours so I need to make the most of the time I have in the studio.

Is anything (or anyone) banned from your studio?
On Fridays everyone is banned from the studio… but there are a few who slip through the net! I like to have one day to myself in the studio each week.

‘Rana Begum’ is at Kate MacGarry, London, from 30 April–6 June.

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