Sanchita Islam Artist, writer, filmmaker, director of Pigment Explosion

Sanchita Islam

Artist, writer and filmmaker Sanchita Islam has worked extensively in east London since 1999 and has participated widely in exhibitions and screenings, working closely with organisations such as the Arts Council, British Council and Commonwealth Institute. Pigment Explosion creates projects that engage people through painting/drawing, film, books and photography and aims to reach out to sectors of the public who would not ordinarily have access to the arts. To date Pigment Explosion has worked with old people, women suffering from domestic violence, kids living in the slums of Bangladesh, street kids in Jakarta, kids living on the estates of east London and Kuala Lumpur and most recently patients with mental health problems in Brussels.

Sanchita Islam completed her BSc (econ) and MSc (econ) at the London School of Economics before embarking on a Channel 4 sponsored MA at the Northern Media School in Directing and Screenwriting, and a BA in the Practice and Theory of Visual Art at Chelsea School of Art and Design before dropping out in her second year. She has exhibited and screened her films in London, Brussels, New York, Paris, Bangladesh, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Rome, India, Pakistan, Frankfurt and Yangon. She has shown at the Whitechapel, ICA and Hayward Gallery and completed over 100 group/solo shows and screenings of her films including the show Schizophrenia Part one where she showed as four artists at the Truman Brewery in 2007. She was artist in resident at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and artist in resident at Artscape and Shoreditch House, and her art features in various venues around London such as Shoreditch House, Mark Hix’s restaurants, and the Clifton Hotel Group in Bristol. She has produced and directed fifteen films to date including shorts and one-hour films. The Arts Council, BBC and British Council have funded her films and five books. These include From Briarwood to Barishal to Brick Lane, Old Meets Young, Hidden, Connecting Kids and Avenues. Pigment Explosion branched out into book publication producing its first publication The Cloud Catcher in 2008. Chipmunka Press published her first volume of poems Eternal Pollution of a Dented Mind and her novel Gungi Blues in 2008. The theatre group ESTACA ZERO TEATRO in Portugal performed her two plays, The Suitcase and Hello. In 2010 the UK Film Council commissioned the animation film The White Wall. In 2015 she performed her play ‘Do I Look Like F*****g A Mad Person’ under the guidance of playwright Mojisola Adebayo.

She had a mid-career retrospective at Rich Mix in March 2013. Brussels based art organisation vzw KAOS and the Psycho-Social Centre St-Alexius awarded her a grant to complete the second scroll project with patients suffering from mental health problems in Brussels 2014. Rich Mix invited Sanchita to exhibit this second scroll and perform a spoken word piece about art, madness and disability; the show took place in June 2015. The Arts Council and British Council awarded her an Artist International Development Fund grant in 2014 to complete a new scroll project in Bangladesh and Burma. In January 2014 she screened her film White Wall at the Dhaka International Film Festival and in March 2015 she screened White Wall and read excerpts from her new book at Pansodan Gallery in Yangon, Burma.

Muswell Hill Press published her new book, written under the pseudonym Q.S Lam ‘Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too’, in January 2015. The book was launched in London at Shoreditch House and Rich Mix in June 2015. She participated in the Return to Sender Postcard Project in Bozar Brussels. A second book launch will take place in February at Brick Lane Book Shop and she will exhibit her War on a Scroll Part 1 at Kaos on 17th Feb. She is also working on several children’s books with the award winning Malaysia based publishing house Oyez.

She is currently campaigning for better global mental health care for all.

Sanchita remains staunchly independent and has tried to create a buzz outside the contemporary art scene while keeping one big toe firmly in it. She is represented by Lollipop Gallery.

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