Featured Artist – Anjana Cawdell
You might recognise Anjana’s delightful impressionistic work from local craft events and the annual
ABC Art Trail, where she has become a regular exhibitor. Summoning up the courage to apply for a
stall at a small craft market in the town hall, she was so excited when she sold her first painting. This
gave Anjana the push she needed to join the ABC Art Trail at the end of May 2015 and then exhibit
for the I Love Beeston art trail in August 2015, organised by fellow artist Helen Stevenson. She was
pleased with how her watercolours glowed ethereally from the blank walls of Cheryl’s Curtains at
the bottom of Chilwell Road, and was delighted by the way local businesses connected with artists in
the community, generating interest in locally produced art.
It was as a child that Anjana first experienced and enjoyed painting with watercolours, but she didn’t
really develop her style until after her children were born and she joined a watercolour class at
Artworks on Chilwell Road, just over ten years ago. She recalls the instructor Rob Sharple’s
‘incredible loose style’ and how she quickly she became hooked on this form of expression.
Eventually this would inspire her to run her own workshops, something she has really missed
delivering this past year. She enjoys sharing her passion for painting with others and the social
connections she has made through her art.
Anjana attributes her success with watercolours as patience, practice and being in just the right
frame of mind when she sits down to paint. She favours a relaxed style where she can achieve a
mindful state and really enjoy the positive effects of the process. She recognises that painting in
watercolours can be frustrating, the consistency of the paint has to be spot on for the desired
outcome and overworking a piece is something she tries to avoid – I admire the way that she creates
such detail with minimal marks.
With Attenborough Nature Reserve on the doorstep, Anjana is never short of influences and
attributes her love of the natural world to time spent living in Kalyani, a very green suburban town of
West Bengal and visiting her dad’s village home. He loved nature and would continually reference
the names of plants and wildlife as she played and took walks around the local area – much to young
Anjana’s annoyance! However, his passions definitely rubbed off on her and she looks back on these
memories with great fondness. Later when they moved to Kolkata her dad facilitated the planting of
trees at every available opportunity, to supplement the sparser green spaces.
Although she didn’t appreciate it as a child, a respect for flora and fauna and the wildlife that
inhabits it was ‘sown in’ her and she is now realising the impact this has had on her, especially during
the pandemic. Nature is such a relief when you are confined to your home, you really do appreciate
its presence again when you can go out and explore. She identifies the pull being the way nature is
constant, it changes everyday and it give us hope. If ever she was feeling low, Anjana would find
solace by walking in the nature reserve and would always return home feeling better.
With her two children at home for much of the past year, Anjana has struggled to find time and
space to paint but the creativity hasn’t stopped altogether. She is using this time for research,
making detailed sketches that will inform future work and this has been very satisfying. She has
recently taken up running, another excuse to get outside and immerse herself in nature. Anjana
enjoys the way that flowers mark the changing of the seasons. There is beauty in every stage, from
first buds to the dried seed heads. She recalls fondly, “my dad used to buy so many flowers we used
to get fed up of arranging them, ‘more flowers!’ my mum would exclaim." And with a keen gardener
for a husband Anjana has plenty of subject matter close to hand.
She is so inspired by nature’s allure, almost sighing when she describes the sight of ‘sunlight falling
on tree trunks and light filtering through leaves.’ It is those sensory experiences, moments of calm,
and snapshots of her surroundings that truly sparks her imagination. Birds, bees and butterflies have
also become part of her growing repertoire and Anjana believes it is important to paint what you
like. If your soul doesn’t connect with what you see, then “your best work doesn’t come out.” She
doesn’t allow herself to think commercially and is always really flattered when people are
complimentary about her work, even more so when they want to own it. She tells me that she is
never quite happy with where she is at artistically, “the goal keeps moving, but that’s how you
She has been really grateful for all the support she has been shown via social media and sales
through the website, it really has been a tonic in amongst all the ‘doom and gloom.’