Friends of the RBSA: Zarina Keyani

Zarina is a painter and printmaker interested in colour, texture and discovery. Her inspirations are Paul Klee, Mark Rothko and Kandinsky. She told ART BLOG more about her life and work…

How and when did you know that you would become a fine artist? 

I come from an artistic background, in that I grew up surrounded by painting, drawing and crafts. My mum was an artist and my aunts on my dad’s side were all involved in textiles and surface design.

I started out as a designer and textile artist, but found I was more interested in the process of painting.

I already had a design studio, where I spent two years developing my painting skills before I entered for my first exhibition with the RBSA. To my delight both paintings I entered were accepted.

Zarina at her studio in Digbeth

Did you train formally or are you self-taught?

I learnt many creative skills while I was quite young, and because I was always very interested in learning how things are done, I taught myself a fair amount. I then formally trained, initially in Textiles and Design, then Art and Design and Fine Art.

What does being an artist mean to you?

For me it’s being part of a community, creating a dialogue and having a conversation.

How would you describe your work in one sentence?

Contemporary abstract painting and print-making, considering landscape and environment.

‘Untitled Land Series’

What has your experience of being involved with the RBSA been like?

Before I joined the RBSA, I used to visit regularly just to look at the artwork and be inspired. Since then, I have become more involved and have found being part of the Society an extremely rewarding experience.

The RBSA is an artists’ community and they offer so much. Having the Friends scheme encourages people to participate. It’s a cooperative and as such you want to give back.

Apart from the curated exhibitions, where you can enter your work, the RBSA runs artist events and fairs, offering support in terms of practice and opportunity.

I have been able to participate in many of their events including exhibitions, demos and workshops. They are always brilliant. I particularly love the demos as you get to chat with the artists about their work and techniques, and I find there is always something new to learn.

The staff are possibly the nicest people I have ever met. They always have a cheery smile for you when you visit, and are happy to answer queries. They really make it a lovely environment.

The Members and Associates are also very encouraging and supportive, and always have time to steer you in the right direction.

What is it like being an artist in Birmingham?

Birmingham is a great city to be an artist in. Location-wise you can get anywhere really quickly, which opens up art-related opportunities all over the place.

Also, Birmingham has a great resource in the RBSA which is all about artists’ opportunities.

In addition we have a range of artist-led spaces and studios in and around Digbeth, where my studio is based. The art community in Birmingham is always welcoming and supportive no matter what group or gallery. Zarina Keyani graduated in Fine Art from the University of Worcester in 2012, and has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition and the Neo Print Prize Competition. Her selected artwork has been presented at the Mall Galleries in London, and she has since exhibited across the UK. 

Could you be a Friend of the RBSA?

Join in October for three months extra on your 2018 membership. Benefits include:

  1. Discounts and private views

  2. Special events

  3. Free entry to certain exhibitions

  4. Networking opportunities

  5. Newsletter and email updates

Did you know?

  1. The Birmingham Society of Artists was formed in 1821, aiming to establish a museum for works of art, provide facilities for students, hold public exhibitions and extend art education in Birmingham.

  2. In 1868 Queen Victoria granted the Society royal status

  3. The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists played an important part in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Sir John Everett Millais and Sir Edward Burne-Jones both served as presidents of the RBSA. 

By Deborah Broomfield, ART BLOG volunteer

#birmingham #culture #gallery #fineart #arts

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