Mandeep Dhiman

Portrait of Mandeep DhimanMandeep Dhiman image 1 entitled crazyMandeep Dhiman image 2 entitled cubes
Mandeep Dhiman image 3 resin detail
Mandeep Dhiman image 4 ceiling structure

Mixed media designer Mandeep Dhiman creates exuberant, decorative pieces out of a range of found materials, ‘the plasticy the better’, she says. They range from knitted body adornments to large-scale sculptures bursting with colour - a love of colour being a legacy of her Indian heritage. ‘I love my work because of its decoration, intricacy and over-the-top nature,’ she says.


Why did you change direction after your BA in textiles at St Martin’s to study mixed media for your master’s at the Royal College of Art?

I felt that I wanted a change in scale. I used to work from home so everything had to be quite small scale for reasons of space and I had also made quite a lot of knitted jewellery at St Martin’s which again meant that
I was limited in scale. I felt that my master’s offered me a chance to work on a much larger scale. I also love working with different materials and wanted a
chance to experiment with them and with different applications. I enjoy testing the limits with different materials and working on existing surfaces in a fresh and dynamic way.

What materials do you enjoy working with most?

At the RCA I started working with Perspex, plastic, resin and found materials like plastic cups or straws, but I really enjoy working with everything and anything, although things that look ‘plasticy’ really appeal
the most.

What aspects of your work would you like to focus on now you have left college?

Luckily I have won a bursary at London Printworks which will give me studio space and professional support for a year. This should give me a chance to explore surface as pure decoration working with stitch and print on different materials. I want to create giant panels that are suspended from the ceiling so you can walk round them - they could eventually be used as screens or room dividers or they could be purely decorative. I want to
explore how to make the fabric hard and structured and experiment how stitch works on a harder surface. The idea is to test the limits of conventional hand embellishment on hard surfaces such as wood, Perspex and plastic in order to create an amalgamation of traditional and modern embroidery techniques.
But I also want a chance to develop some really large-scale lighting and maybe work with an architect to create some huge pieces.

How do you see your practice developing?

The type of work I envisage doing revolves around making decorative pieces for corporate bodies, theatres, galleries and furniture designers. I would like to work for companies like Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Future Systems. I would like to take a small-scale idea and expand it to an exaggerated scale. I prefer a hands-on approach which gives me complete control from the initial research phase through the design to the building of the final product.

How does your Indian background feed into your work?

I’m from the Punjab so everything I do is quite decorative and colour plays a really huge part in my work. I visited the Punjab last summer to find out more about my roots and I really enjoyed seeing the multidimensional colours, textures and shapes of exotic fruits and vegetables, local crafts and traditional clothing. Also a lot of the cultural differences in how
people live in the UK and India feed into my work. For example, my RCA degree show piece was about over indulgence and explored how materialistic people
are in the West compared with India where (most) people are relatively happy with their lot. Being of Sikh heritage, but having been born and educated in the West has made me question the ways in which Indian and Western aesthetics can co-exist and work together in an exciting and innovative design dialogue.

What do you plan to do for the workshop you are hosting for the Making on the 18 November at the De La Warr Pavilion?

We will work with colour and shapes. Each pair will decorate a two dimensional surface that will turn into a three dimensional sculptural shape once suspended from the ceiling. It will all be quite festive – like making your own Christmas decorations but bigger in scale – and I hope everyone will enjoy it.