Today we meet up with Shweta Agrawal: Charcoal artist and street photographer. Shweta has been a Powai resident for 4 years now and is a familiar face within Lake Homes where she resides. Lake homes being a tightly knit community, Shweta is well known for her art and her buddhist chanting. She can be found exhibiting and making live sketches at many of the events happening in Powai. She has often turned her camera to the residents of Powai and its surroundings with stunning results.

Shweta spoke to us about her love of charcoal art and the ups and downs of making a living as an artist in Powai.

Unique perspectives are a feature of Shweta’s street photographs

How did you start off with street photography and charcoal art?

Sketching was always my passion since childhood and I always liked making portraits. During my college days I started learning charcoal technique and I never stopped after that. During the course of time I also started using pastels in my portraits which created great impact.

Photography came much later in life when I started exploring the camera which I got as a gift from my sisters. I got madly into it as I just loved the process. Gradually I realised I love street photography as it gives me opportunity to meet different kind of people. Its a challenge to capture candid moments and tell a story.

Which is your preferred medium?

I have always used graphite pencils and later charcoal, I never liked using any other medium. Dry medium has always been my passion.

Powai Resident Shweta's exhibit at the India Art Fair
Shweta’s exhibit at the India Art Fair

What draws you to Charcoal as a medium?

I like the texture which it creates and also it’s challenging. I always feel excited when I use charcoal. It has totally different feel to it. It’s very meditative for me to make strokes and with that completing one work.

How easy/hard is it to make a living as an artist?

It’s very tough to make a living as an artist cause there is so much competition. I also feel that many artists don’t get a good platform to show their art as everything has become very commercial and very few galleries give a good platform for emerging artists to show their work without paying hefty amount and it’s not necessary that artist will sell out. So emerging artists need a platform which is not commercial and is truly for their benefit.

Do you find the Powai community in general is receptive to art?

It is quiet receptive to art and I do have a few students because of some fairs which happened in Powai. The Wednesday bazaar is a recurring feature that allows artists like me to exhibit my work. There are also quite a few fellow artists who live and work inn powai so we the chance to share our views on our art.

Shweta’s photos often highlight Powai’s unique architectural elements

Tell us about some art events that you have been a part of so far?

After a gap of 5 years, it’s first time I have started exploring in Mumbai. I started with exhibiting at Mumbai Art Fair last year, then I also exhibited in Wednesday Bazaar which was organised in Soda Bottle Openerwala in Powai. I also exhibited in Christmas Fest which happened in Norita Grounds, where I also did Life Portraits on the spot, which was a big hit. Recently I exhibited in India Art Festival which is the biggest platform for all emerging artists around India.

Live sketching

Your works often have a lot of spiritual elements? Are you a deeply spiritual person? And how does that translate into your work?

I was into Art of Living for more than 10 years and then moved to Buddhism recently. I like to make portraits and subjects which give some spiritual feel and life like portraits which connects to the inner conscience.

What has been the best part about staying in Powai for you?

Powai is very Cosmopolitan and very happening and it has great energy. Something new keeps happening here which I really like and people are very open minded. I live in lake Homes which is a very self contained environment.

Tell us about your future plans?

I want to be a renowned charcoal artist and keep exhibiting as much as I can. We emerging artist need better platform which is not commercial and gives value to us. I want to take my charcoal technique all over the world.