Reena Makwana

Reena Pic2Reena Makwana is a freelance illustrator in London working with a mixture of embroidery, drawings and objects. She graduated from Camberwell College of Arts in 2008 with a BA in Illustration. She makes work inspired by people in their environment, human behaviour, social history and superstitions in the modern world.

Website //

Blog //

Twitter / @ReenaMakwana

Etsy //

Next exhibition

‘A View of Harrogate’ – Baa Ram Ewe, 23 Cold Bath Road, Harrogate, HG2 ONL – six embroideries of a walk around Harrogate installed in Baa Ram Ewe’s window.

Monday 2 June – Sunday 29 June.

How would you describe what you do?
I collect and record oddities in the everyday and translate them into artwork. I produce illustrations using embroidery and drawings. For the past year, I’ve been making ceramic pots, plates and tiles too.

What do you feel is the most important thing about your work?
I suppose it has a sense of humour. A friend asked me about my work earlier this year and I realised it is a sort of diary in a way. Things are constantly in flux, especially in London. Places change so quickly. My embroideries are a way of documenting the now. My work for clients is usually whatever they want but in my style!

What keeps you motivated to create, and keep creating work?
I’ve always made things since I was a child so my motivation is mostly the enjoyment of making. I always say yes to new and challenging projects, as it pushes my work and way of thinking further.

Where do you see your work heading in the next twelve months?
Hopefully more exhibitions and work in print. I’d like to do a small exhibition of sgraffito ceramics at some point.

Who, what, where or how do you get your first inspirations?
I get a lot of my inspiration from walking either in the city or in the countryside. Nature, animals, plants, women with a second pair of eyebrows drawn on, people interacting in the street, overheard conversations on the bus, misfits, eccentrics, pet owners. I find inspiration from social history too, as I like finding out about strange places and stories.

What has been your biggest success, or source of pride?
Nest Gallery is a project I’ve worked on since 2009 with my co-curator Anna Lincoln and with our friends. I started it with the intention of putting on exhibitions and events to promote female artists. A lot of us were doing jobs and internships and wanted to be showing our work, so we put on exhibitions and participated in zine and craft fairs. It was a good way of keeping our practice going through our day jobs and I love all the work of the artists involved, it’s been great showing their work off.

What do you think are the important issues facing yourself, and your industry at the moment?
Money is a big issue, it’s hard to get funding and a lot of organisations are cautious in getting involved with something new or a bit different. I think the recession has created a lot of self-starters, which is encouraging.

Have any relationships, friendships, business or otherwise, been significant in­ shaping your work as it is now?
A lot of things have. I had a show at dalla Rosa in 2011 when it was at Netil House (it’s now 121 Clerkenwell Road). Greig Burgoyne and myself produced wall drawings on the gallery walls under the title ‘Dialogo|Dialogue’. Greig took inspiration from the interior of the building and I took inspiration from a walk around the area and Hackney. I had produced work inspired by folklore and was interested in social history and that show made me realise how interested I am in the social present as well.

What is your favourite word?
I can’t think of my favourite word. I think I might have forgotten it. I like the word marshmallow because it sounds nice.

What would you do with the perfect Sunday afternoon?
People watching in the sun with good company or for a solo day a walk in a forest by the sea in the spring or autumn.

And finally, who should Corinne& be profiling next?
Studio Operative. They are constantly working on new interesting projects and showcasing the possibilities of contemporary illustration (I stole that bit from their website).


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