Creative Croydon 2023

Meet the artists behind Creative Croydon 2023
Creative Croydon showcases 15 different pieces of art by Croydon’s celebrated local artists; Divya Sharma, Matt Bannister, Skye Baker, Miguel Sopena and Melanie Russell.

Divya Sharma

Divya’s work reflects her lived experience, with the autobiographical and fictional narratives in her projects exploring possibilities to re-imagine the notion of ‘belonging’.

Her practice is multi-disciplinary and is (to her) a powerful form of self-expression. It is a means of sparking important conversations around themes of diaspora, mother tongue and the continued legacies of post colonialism.

By sharing her perspective as an immigrant and a member of the Tamil diaspora, she contributes to a broader dialogue on culture, identity, and social justice through her creative work.

Drawing connections between the land, her mother tongue, personal memories, and the practice of social relations with animate and inanimate beings, her work evokes the inseparability of the environment from both one’s consciousness and body.

Through seeking the practice of place making, it becomes an act of reclaiming the connections between land and language of her ancient ancestors.

Divya has a BA in Fine Art from the University of Arts London and Masters in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art. She is one of the founding members of The Neulinge Collective and The Post Colonials Collective and is the founder and host of the ARTiculate podcast (on Apple Podcasts).

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Skye Baker

Skye is a Burmese illustrator and workshop facilitator from Croydon. She is just finishing off an MA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts.

She is also a workshop leader for families and adults. Her freelance practice mainly consists of editorial, advertising illustrations, comics, album covers and murals!

She creates activity packs and guides for art galleries and tells stories about connection and joy as she wants her stories to bring people together. 

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Miguel Sopena

Miguel is an artist and photographer originally from València, Spain, but now based in Croydon.

Miguel became an artist after completing his doctorate in theoretical Physics at Sussex University. He combined writing his thesis with a part-time Foundation programme in Art and Design at Brighton City College, then enrolled on a portraiture diploma at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London, where he learnt about traditional oil painting and the human figure.

Soon after graduation Miguel started working in an abstract language. Gradually, Miguel’s practice became mainly abstract, exploring themes of memory, identity, and the passage of time, and with a focus on composition, colour, and the expressive possibilities of the materials he works with. 

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Melanie Russell

Melanie graduated from an MFA in Fine Art from Slade School of Fine Art 2004 in London, where she now lives and works.

Recent exhibitions include ‘A Generous Space 3’, Huddersfield Art Gallery, ‘Extraordinary Sketchbooks’ Mount House Gallery in Marlborough, ‘Contemporary British Watercolours’ Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery in Kent and ‘Jerwood Contemporary Painters’ touring exhibition across the UK.

Russell was invited for a residency with Marlborough College, Wiltshire in 2006 and created a public commission for the Weymouth Hoardings Project alongside Dorset County Council in 2010. 

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Matt Bannister

Matt is an artist from Surrey, living and working in south London. He is fascinated by the quirks and shapes of the urban environment, producing figurative paintings and drawings with detail and strong composition.

The work is a response to the sights that many might take for granted: highlighting features, light and shapes that otherwise might have been missed.

After studying fine art at Lancaster University, he worked for the BBC for 14 years as an editor, shoot producer and art director for their publicity photography department.

A desire to pick up the paintbrush and pencil again, prompted a career change to return to producing his own work and creating imagery for others.

Follow Matt on Instagram.