Stepping into Shilo Shiv Suleman’s apartment is like stepping into one of her drawings. In fact saying her home is an extension of her art would be a fair statement because my eyes are first drawn to a framed artwork (flanked by Raja Ravi Verma lithographs) that continues into the wall. Shilo has lived in and out of the apartment for the last year and the piece is still a work-in-progress, with visible outlines to be filled in with watercolours. Her living room is spilling with other elements from her art and in the midst of it all, of course, looking every bit the part is her, the beautiful nymph, and her sweet cocker spaniel Sufi.
Shilo is a visual artist, activist and founder of The Fearless Collective, which comprises hundreds of artists across India and internationally who use art to protest gender violence. I first met her through an ex-boyfriend (I have millions) who composed all the music for her interactive storytelling app Khoya, which incidentally I hummed on and we’ve been friends since.
Last month she invited me over to her Indiranagar home and I found it the best kinds of personal, filled with her favourite things, artworks she's created, great bargains, souvenirs from travels and gifts from the natural world.
Flowers, real, artificial and two dimensional adorn many surfaces, bookshelves are piled with books about art and spirituality, fairy lights are strung at every opportunity. Many of her projects are given extended life in the home. Two acrylic agates, originally created for INK for whom Shilo is a fellow are propped up against walls and a wearable sculpture of embroidered lotus petals from her summer residency program at SVA (which I saw in the flesh) is slung over one of her chairs.
The coffee table, a weathered wooden slab streaked with paint splotches from art classes she ran with her mother, the incredible artist Nilofer Suleman, and her vintage barbers chair, a steal at 1000 rupees are both from Shivaji Nagar.
She tells me it was important for her to take work out of the bedroom and as a result, her new bedroom is a sanctuary. The canopy over her bed was bought in Ubud, Bali, on the side of the road and hauled back to India, and two altars in her room furnished with an assortment of crystals, statues and framed images of goddesses. “I'm all about channeling those feminine vibes,” she grins at me, “vibes with a Z.”
To learn more about Shilo and see some her work, check out her brand spanking new website shiloshivsuleman.com.