Manju Sharma (b. 1972, India)

I am a visual artist and writer. I was brought up in the UK, and currently live and work in Utrecht, The Netherlands. In my art-practice, I am developing the concept of ‘never leaving never arriving’ through the examination of colonial heritage, mental-health and partition and by practicing modes of care and speculative healing. Through the personal, and the everyday, I unfold narratives embedded in social and geopolitical landscapes. I use autobiography as a methodology to find hidden narratives and to explore the self and its relatedness to the world that I wishes to grasp and care for. I have a gift of reading atmospheres that allows me to unfold everyday sensitive issues and can provide a voice. The voice comes in story-telling practices and helps to develop one’s own being and identity, to demonstrate the fluidity of our borders both external and internal, and provides care at thresholds of metamorphosis. The art practice offers mental escape routes, where the spiritual and speculative healing, through the performance of care, brings courage and hopefulness when ‘never leaving never arriving’. My artistic practice is a poetical languaging consisting of story-telling, performance, voice, film, sewing, and drawing-painting. I investigate silences through spectral systems of utterances, rituals, food, internalised conversations, and imaginations. These now form an integral part of my life-practice.

Bodily time line

1972:   Born on July 3, India, but according to Marguerite Yourcenar your place of birth is your first memory.

1973:   1 year old

1974:   2 years old: Moved to England, but the cow, goat and mango tree were not a part of my luggage.

1975:   3 years old. First memories.

1976:   4 years old: A five penny piece got stuck in my throat. I managed to remove it with my fingers.

1977:   5 years old: A boy bit into my right arm at a nursery. It did not hurt. I still have a small scar on my arm, but you can hardly see it anymore.

1978:   6 years old: Mum started showing signs of depression, or that was when I started to notice it.

1979:   7 years old: I was afraid that I might be god.

1980:   8 years old: Michael pushed me into wet cement on the pavement leaving my footprint on my street for years.

1981:   9 years old: My brother told me that I was going to be married-off soon.

1982:   10 years old: Checked how much my feet had grown against my footprint in the cement.

1983:   11 years old: Deliberately failed in an exam because I did not want to go to an all-girls school.

1984:   12 years old: Started my menstruation.

1985:   13 years old

1986:   14 years old

1987:   15 years old: Realised that I made a mistake choosing this secondary school.

1988:   16 years old: Choosing A-Levels. Are you ready to be an artist?    

1989:   17 years old

1990:   18 years old

1991:   19 years old: Attended Kingston Business School, and visited the art department.

1992:   20 years old: Lived the American dream for a year.

1993:   21 years old: Met a girl that was graduating from St Martins. 

1994:   22 years old: Visited India for the first time. Graduated in Business and Finance.

1995:   23 years old: Tried smoking marijuana; was not successful.

1996:   24 years old: Still did not fit in. Moved to Holland.

1997:   25 years old: Started working at Ersnt & Young International Department, Amsterdam.

1998:   26 years old

1999:   27 years old: Tracey Emin “Bed” nomination of the Turner Prize. I had a well-paid job, a car, and a house.

2000:   28 years old: Travelled in Kenya.

2001:   29 years old: Travelled in Alaska.

2002:   30 years old: Travelled in Costa Rica. Passed my Chartered Accountant exams. Still did not fit in.

2003:   31 years old: Realised that money can make life easier but not necessarily happier.

2004:   32 years old: Carried on working as an Accountant. I felt like a fraud. Pretending to be something. Moved to Greece. Stopped working, and realised how important light is.

2005:   33 years old: Mella was born. She fitted in.

2006:   34 years old

2007:   35 years old: Jay was born. He fitted in.

2008:   36 years old: Moved back to Holland.

2009:   37 years old: Decided to go to art schoolJ. Are you ready to be an artist?

2010:   38 years old

2011:   39 years old

2012:   40 years old: Laila told me that I am always saying sorry.

2013:   41 years old: Found out that I am too old to be considered for as a young artist according to the art world. I was already written-off before I got started. Travelled in New Zealand.

2014:   42 years old: Moved to Bratislava. Are you ready to be an artist?  Yes. But how, when nobody is looking for you?

2015:   43 years old: Had a tumour removed from inside my head. Gave up my RA title.

2016:   44 years old: Went to visit Kafka’s grave. Moved back to Holland. Back to art school. Back to chasing a dream.

2017:   45 years old: Graduated from HKU Art Academy, Utrecht. Travelled to Tanzania. Got invited to participate in exhibitions. Felt insufficient so I signed up for the Masters Programme, and got accepted. Sold my car and started to use the public transport.

2018:   46 years old: Mum passed away in her sleep in the morning. Sunny followed soon after and then in the during New Year’s 2019 Dad passed away in the early morning. All three in their beds.  My dog Troy was born. We brought him home in October.

2019:   47 years old: Dealing with my silence, I wished to break through the 4th wall. Heritage, citizenship and identity become urgent matters, because of Brexit, and the current migration situation. Having difficulties with my dog. Not all dog owners are social. Got my Masters in Fine Art 🙂

2020:   48 years old: Did I ever arrive? Did I ever depart? What happens in this time of passage? Stopped trying to fit in. Create my own world. Look for love and friendship.

2021: Rejection, unsuccessful.

2022: time to heal

2023, 2024, 2025,

2026, 2027, 2028, 2029, 2030, 2031,

2032, 2033, 2034, 2035, 2036, 2037,

2038, 2039, 2040, 2041, 2042, 2043,

2044, 2045, 2046, 2047, 2048, 2049,

2050, 2051, 2052, 2053, 2054, 2055,

2056, 2057, 2058, 2059, 2060, 2061,

2062, 2063, 2064, 2065, 2066.

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