Student Profile: Simran Dahiya

How long have you been at TBSSS?

I’ve been a student at TBSSS since Term 4 2020, joining right after COVID lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Where do you travel from each week?

I, luckily, live very close by and walk from Newtown to work at the studio.

What do you do when you’re not sculpting?

I’m technically a medical student, however, I’m on a year off to explore my other hobbies and interests. In my year off, I’m completing an Arts degree with a major in English and Gender Studies. My aim this year has mainly been to broaden my horizons! Apart from being an amateur sculptor, I’m also a student at the Project Snail pottery studio in Newtown. As part of my Arts degree, I’m learning how to make a short film (which will teach me how to work in other media such as sound and video that I will eventually be able to incorporate into my sculpture practice) and doing an arts theory course exploring the human body and sexuality in contemporary art. I’m also dabbling in new fitness avenues (such as martial arts and trapeze classes) and learning how to cook! I’m enjoying pursuing a whole range of artistic avenues and am looking forward to taking all these new skills and hobbies with me for when I re-enter the Medicine stream next year.

What made you take up sculpting?

This might be cliché, but honestly, I first fell in love with sculpting when I visited Musée Rodin in Paris in 2019. I was mesmerised by the manipulation of form and material to capture the intricacies of human life and emotion. Fascination with the human body and thought has never been new to me, it’s one of the main reasons I’m pursuing a career in Medicine. However, I’ve never thought to combine that passion with the creative release of art! I initially thought I’d do a course with this studio, just to experience the practice. But the second I touched the studio’s clay (holding the ghosts of sculptures past), I knew I would be doing this for the rest of my life!

What inspires your sculpture practice?

I’m still working this out. I’m often drawn to socially engaged art that balances the inner-mind with the outer world. For that reason, most of the works I’ve created respond to a combination of my unconscious inner psychology and its relationship with socio-political realities. For instance, the first two works I’ve ever made were inspired by feminist dissent and the piece I plan to begin soon will reflect on the diasporic position of South-Asian women in the Western world. I’m trying to teach my mind to approach my practice more freely and abstractly, but I always seem to be pulled back to some level of commentary!

Tell us about what you’re working on currently

I’m currently in the process of working on a piece called ‘The devil is woman’ (see below). It involves the reclaiming of female sexual energy in a dynamic piece that incorporates elements of traditional demonic imagery. I’m also learning to experiment with new materials, such as soapstone.

Who are your favourite artists/sculptors? 

I don’t think I can answer this question yet, I’m still learning what my taste is. Recently, however, I’ve been inspired by the collection of sculptures ‘Painting Machines’ (2019-ongoing) by the artistic duo Lolo & Sosaku.

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