Introduction by Evan Soule, interview by Jess Coulson.
This week Islington Mill are taking over MUKA and showcasing some of the mill's best and newest residents. Jess Coulson approached these residents with a selection of questions and today we have an introduction to Astarte Cara.
Can you describe yourself and your work?
My practice is multi-displinary and focused on the D.I.Y aspect of the arts. I work in a range of mediums including acrylic and digital painting, performance art, experimental film and photography. As an artist my practice is strongly linked to my emotional state and as such can be quite spur of the moment. This way of working is also strongly linked to my ADHD, and my work has tackled themes including identity, mental health and dual-heritage.
You were one of the last classes of IMAA, can you tell us about that experience?
IMAA was a unique experience. I joined a few years ago and didn’t know about DIY arts. I was interested in growing the practical skills and becoming an artist, having previously been employed in the hospitality/nightclub industry. It provided me with a way of exploring the skills I had with different types of people from a variety of backgrounds, and more
importantly felt very accessible. The mentorship and free studio space that the mill provided meant that we could explore new things without the pressure of a final outcome. I became part of a group that worked together to make art, plan, curate and market exhibitions. Our residency at Victoria Baths in 2019 organised by Nancy Collantine was especially a wonderful moment for me.
More importantly, IMAA has also provided a foundation for the most important relationships in my life. I am very close to some of the other members of the final cohort and we still keep in contact. IMAA gave me an opportunity to find people like me and a way of flourishing in the world. I have a lot more self confidence as an artist and I have also become much more secure as a person due to the personal and professional support offered by everyone at the Mill, to the extent that I am determined to live with care, community and compassion in mind.
What are you working on currently?
I love learning skills, at the moment I’m developing my skills as a textile upcycler and designer. Due to COVID, I currently work from my bedroom studio which is challenging but I’m very grateful for this opportunity.
Has the lockdown impacted on the work you’ve been creating?
Lockdown was challenging, but not for the reasons you’d imagine. I happened to intervene in a really violent crime in August and saved someone's life. I think that had a pretty big impact on my pre existing C-PTSD. But amazingly I am very optimistic now about the world and the people within it.
Have there been any positive sides to lockdown for you that you would like to share? (Feel free to say no)
Being able to work to become a healthier and secure version of myself. I think I am so introspective now that I am much more aware of my own habits and processes. I have become so grateful just to be alive.
Recently I took part in Grand ReUnion’s Tender Hotel project in late February and that was amazing. Being able to ‘visit’ different rooms and talk to other creatives and meet new people in a caring setting was so fantastic.
Looking at artworks online, and being able to learn new skills including HTML, learning languages etc. I’ve always been the type of person to improve my knowledge but lockdown gave me that opportunity.
When it’s safe and legal to have events and exhibitions, what are you hoping to see?
Lebanon and Iran are on my list as cultural places of interest. Lebanon for the music scene and Iran for the Mesopotamian architecture.
I am especially interested in Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection in Rotterdam as they are planning a huge depot containing most of their collection.
I’d also like to visit Pitt Museum in Oxford and revisit the V & A for their costume and jewellery collection.
I’m interested in meeting people within the cultural sector and visiting different art collectives. Saying that I do recall the Museum of Chicago having a fantastic collection of art, as does Hamburger Banhof.
I’d love to be able to go to loads of gigs, maybe catch some turkish disco funk, jazz, classical & have a boogie under the stars.
Whose work are you really enjoying right now?
Francesca Woodman - she was a fantastic photographer, just sublime. Very apt for isolation too!