"So easy to share": Bhargavi Mohan's Graduate Showcase story
- Written byRachel Segal Hamilton
- Published date 25 May 2023
Bhargavi Mohan was among the first final year students to use UAL’s Graduate Showcase platform when in-person shows were paused during the pandemic. Two years on, with commissions and teaching jobs under her belt, she found the benefits went further than she could have anticipated...
Bhargavi Mohan has Quentin Blake to thank for her career. In part, at least. The 2021 MA Illustration graduate heard about UAL when, fresh from a Fine Art BA, she Googled the name of her favourite children’s illustrator and discovered he’d studied at Chelsea School of Art. Sitting at her laptop in Aurangabad, India, she started researching courses, came to London to do a short course in animation at LCC and then onto the Master’s at Camberwell College of Arts.
Her studies took an unforeseen turn when in 2020, the college temporarily closed its doors and in-person shows were cancelled. But Bhargavi remembered a conversation she’d had with the late Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Crow: “he told me to make the most of whatever opportunities you get here. Graduate Showcase really helped me to promote my work and to establish myself. Even after coming back to India, I made many contacts this way,” she recalls. “Graduate Showcase was our ray of hope.”
Before this shift to online, Bhargavi had been working with traditional printmaking. But she embraced the chance to explore digital methods. “My practice evolved. I started working on the Adobe Creative Cloud software and amalgamating printmaking and illustration,” she explains. “I would collect leaves I found in the park to make prints, and on an iPad, I would scan my images and manipulate them digitally.”
The culmination of this was the final project she presented on graduateshowcase.arts.ac.uk. A Home for Hermit Crab is a children’s story inspired by hours spent immersed in the aquatic specimen collections of London’s Natural History Museum. “I wanted to give a message about sustainability and climate change, so I made a picture book that shows a hermit crab trying to make its home in different plastic waste he finds on the beach and how he struggles to find a nice seashell.”
She sent out the project far and wide to publishers, in the UK and in India and to the global network of contacts she’d made through studying at UAL, now living in China, South Africa and elsewhere. “You can share your work easily on Graduate Showcase,” she says, “It’s so accessible. There’s no risk of damage to your original work and no requirement for transportation.” Ektara, an Indian children’s publishing house, replied to say they loved her work and commissioned her to illustrate stories and poems for their magazines, Cycle and Pluto.
More jobs followed. A portrait commission for a trio of artists, alumni of the Bath Academy of Art, who she met at Connect Art Fair shared her Showcase project. A design for a set of recipe cards for a South London based food outlet, serving traditional Indian cuisine called ‘Mere Ghar ka khana’. Drawing and printmaking workshops, online as well as in universities. Today, Bhargavi has returned to India and is working freelance as an illustrator, doing commissions and selling limited-edition prints, alongside teaching roles for Bhanwar Rathore Design Studio and Mahatma Gandhi Mission.
Graduate Showcase opened Bhargavi’s eyes to the many possibilities that presenting work online can bring. “This is the digital age. Visual arts are experienced in a different way now. Students should still do physical displays but should also adapt to digital technologies and show their work virtually. Museums offer virtual tours, while Google Arts & Culture lets you see paintings virtually,” she says. “We need to change with these changing times.”
Explore work by recent UAL graduates online at graduateshowcase.arts.ac.uk
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