On the Radio! Kadak Collective on the BBC

BBC World Service - The Cultural Frontline The Kadak collective
Click here to listen online

We’re on the radio you guys! How exciting @kadakcollective is on the BBC world service talking about our Kickstarter Graphic Anthology & the collective

(I also only found out it was on the air because my parents messaged me saying some one they knew in Goa just turned it on and heard us. Small world!

Thanks to the lovely ❤️ @VictoriaFerran for the interview

Listen here

 #kadakcollective #bbcworldservice #theculturalfrontline #illustration #zine #comics #graphicanthology #radio #drawing #illustrator #kadak #india #bombay #graphicanothology #bystander #bbcradio #sketching #book #art #london #bbc #zinemaking #zinemakers #illustrators

Online Exhibition: GRID Heritage

I’m part of an online exhibition here with some other amazing South Asian artists, including a video about my practice by Blossom Pearl Carrasco Pearl.

My work in the exhibition

Thanks to Sanjukta Ghosh & Prof. Parul Dave Mukherji for including me in the panel discussion & exhibition.

The GRID Heritage network includes academics, researchers, artists and heritage practitioners and specialists in three main areas:

CRAFT: paintings, illustrations and three dimensional objects (co-ordinated by Parul Dave-Mukherji, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)

THREADS: embroidery and textiles (co-ordinated by Raminder Kaur, University of Sussex, UK)

ECHOES: music and performance (co-ordinated by Navtej Purewal, SOAS, UK).

View full exhibition here

Fantasy of a Trailer Wagon Exhibition Photos

Very belated website update & Private view photo drop.

Thanks so much to everyone who came, really appreciate it.

And I’m glad I colour coordinated with my painting accidentally.

Limited edition prints of both available in my shop

Ps: I had forgotten what a social party felt like and when it was over at about 9 I was literally SHATTERED could barely eat and toddled off home to recover in blissful solitude from the sudden burst of extroversion

Exhibition walkthrough video here

‘Fantasy of having a trailer wagon’ Group Exhibition, London

3rd – 18th June 2021

Curated by Tatiana de Stempel & GALLERY46

I’m excited to be a part of this group exhibition in 3-18 June 2021 with so many amazing artists.

I’m showing 2 original paintings (images below)

I haven’t looked at the original of these 2 in some time and I must say the big white border around the frame is very pleasing, plus didn’t remember a lot of the details. It makes me miss using a ballpoint pen again (I just like the grain and meditative work process)

If anyone is around in London please do visit! I’ll be there tonight and maybe for a couple of the performances organised below which sound really great (esp interested in Ivan Cartwright)

Event Details

Where: Gallery 46, Ashfield St, London E1 2AJ

Private View: 3 June 2021  5-9pm

Exhibition dates:  4 – 18 June 2021

Opening hours: Tue-Sat 12-6pm, Sun 11-5pm

Website Link https://fantasyofatrailerwagon.org

020 3645 5062

About the Show

“Fantasy of having a trailer wagon all to myself; A group show celebrating the life and work of Manoj NairAn impressive international roster of more than 20 artists from the UK, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Korea and Sri Lanka: the exhibition will include painting , photography ,performance, film, sculpture, writing, music and digital artwork.

These artists are coming together to celebrate the life of Indian writer, journalist, critic and curator, Manoj Nair and his contribution to arts and culture.

Artists: Anju Acharya, Anjali Nair, Marium Agha, Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press, Maya Bastian, Peter Bond, Xenia Bond, Hannah Burton, Ivan Cartwright, Roshan Chhabria, Naima Dadabhoy, Anil Dayanand, Stephanie Douet, Khiyo Band, Vimukthi Jayasundara, Sang Hoon Lee, Danushka Marasinghe, Harold Offeh, Sabrina Sabrina Osborne, Nick Parkin, Jiva Parthipan, Anoli Perera, Saad Qureshi, Paul Sakoilsky, Anna Sebastian, Janine Shroff, Sophie de Stempel, Tatiana de Stempel, Bharat Thakur, Gavin Turk, Anup Vega

Workshops and Performances at GALLERY46

All workshops will be performed outside in the gardens, observe social distance guidance and can also be accessed via zoom. Places are free but must be booked in advance.
For further information and to book: www.fantasyofatrailerwagon.org

Sang Hoon Lee Live performance ‘To Move on Unsteadily’: 3rd June 2021 – 7pm & 6th June -4pm .
The performance will be created from a sense of uncertainty. The body will be continuously shaken, staggered, unbalanced.

Khiyo Live Music Workshop: 4th June 2021 – 11-1pm
Music workshop run by London-based British Bengali band, featuring Indian and Bangladeshi classical music and after performance discussion. Workshop will be zoom linked to schools in Whitechapel. Pupils will listen to the music and then draw and paint what the music makes them think and feel. Khiyo will be playing music from the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence.

Ivan Cartwright ,’A Wedding Portrait’ by his Gay Lover: 5th June 2021 2-4pm
This performance will be a live shared talk with questions from the audience (Covid permitting). The performance will address the complex issues of non-binary identity and polygamous sexual identity within heteronormative parameters and equally rigid expectations around masculine ideals.

Nick Parkin- ‘Islands of Dust -Butoh’ workshop exploring the Butoh dance: 12 June 2021 – 2-4pm
Nick Parkin is an award-winning Composer, Musician, Artist, Director and Movement Practitioner specialising in environmental and site-based sound and performance. Workshop will be zoom linked to participating universities.

#gallery46whitechapel #gallery46 #fantasyofhavingatrailerwagonalltomyself #exhibition #southasian #southasianart #painting #london #india #artexhibition #art

Limited edition prints if you feel like supporting my work is in my shop link below – prints are from high res scans so all the detail and yummy grain is printed

PLUS added bonus of hanging this up in your house to horrify all the aunties uncles whose sole purpose in life is to ask you when you are having a baby (or second baby)

Limited edition Prints https://janineshroff.bigcartel.com

✨Shop Launch!✨ New Print Discount 👁 💪🏾

My Shop: click the caption to link through

Holy moly it’s been a while. But don’t worry.

I swear I won’t talk about ‘tHe nEW nOrMaL’

I will instead talk about the shop I set up, a herculean feat of organisation, test printing and resizing, but at last it is done! All my limited edition prints, in both sizes (A1 & A2) are now on my shop so it’s a lot easier to order.

I’m very happy about it! I’d been keeping track of limited edition numbering on an excel sheet and posting them myself and I was LOSING MY MIND. So yay. And whew.

4 Brand New Prints

Two New Paintings £170-220 each

These 2 are a apocalyptic set: When placed together form they also form a connected landscape. The older prints are the same price as they always were but new prints will be a little bit more.

For the first few weeks of the launch of my shop they’ll be the same price as the older ones. Just use the discount codes underneath. [Expires Oct 4th]

Discount Codes

Two New Digital Works £40

Smaller more affordable digital artwork prints

If there is a print you’d like from my portfolio that isn’t available yet, let me know!

The Bystander Anthology on Kickstarter

Dear readers of this neglected news section of my website: I wanted to update you about a project Kadak is working on.

A group of South-asian illustrators and zine and comic makers are self-publishing a illustrated anthology called ‘Bystander’ on Kickstarter

Bystander Anthology features 51 contributors from South Asia, spread out in 13 countries – and I’m one of them.

It’s the first project of this scale, and I would love your support in helping fund it. The funding is high so that all the contributors, including the editors will be payed at a fair and international pay rate, and of course to produce the book and website that showcase the work.

I’m one of the contributors of this unique Kickstarter self-publishing project: 50+ South Asian creatives. 13 countries. 1 Comics Anthology. Stories about Gender,Identity, Boundary and Exclusion. Presented by Kadak.

It’ll be really great, and the book will ONLY be available on Kickstarter (unless a publisher magically decides to pick it up).  

The #BystanderAnthology book itself is one of our many rewards, available at the £22 tier and EVERY tier above that! (other tiers have great rewards, like many zines, comics, prints and other fun things from our great list of contributors) Currently the book is available ONLY as a reward on this Kickstarter

IT’S GOING TO BE FABULOUS! Please do donate! (If not please do share) Please do share with your friends who may be interested. Every little bit helps! (Yes I know that may or may not be a supermarket tagline)

Kadak is a collective of South Asian womxn and queer folk who work with graphic story-telling of different kinds. An ever-expanding group of creators we work on self-authored projects and zines. Kadak means strong, severe, sharp —like our tea.

Portfolio section mass updates

Hey all,

Lots of new projects uploaded in both design & illustration have been added to my portfolio section.

Do take a look!

Also finally published my Lesbian Movie Guide Poster: Movies rated by ‘tears’ instead of ‘stars’! (Just so you are prepared for the exact amount of inevitable depression following any lesbian film watching session)

View it larger here 

Interview with Design fabric

Interview with Design Fabric talking about my illustration practice

Forgive any arbs rambling in there. Many thanks to Rohini Kejriwal!

I no longer have a working link for the article online however my Rohini’s questions and my answers below

Tap image to view interview
Click image to read

By Rohini Kejriwal

Janine Shroff’s figurative and occasionally surreal artworks create a sense of dissonance and intrigue at first glance. Featuring strange mythological creatures and unconventional humans, the London-based, Mumbai-born fine artist creates fantastical scenes using mixed media, acrylic and ballpoint-pens on heavy-weight paper.

Q. How has it been going back to UK after your BA and making it your home (again) ? Is it keeping the creative juices flowing?

I never left the UK after my BA. I did an M.A after that and then managed to scrape by my fingernails into a job and a working visa.

I find creative juices have ebbs and flows. During high stress times like long hours at work or just life admin, those take some toll and I find I’m drawing less. Once I’ve got into a routine (and found a great podcast to listen to) I can usually knuckle down.

Q. Do you consciously try and hold on to your Indian-ness being a member of the diaspora now?

I don’t know about consciously: I haven’t managed to pick up a British accent yet and I’m very happy about that.

I do feel vague, constant guilt about how much Hindi I’ve forgotten (and it was shaky to begin with, but it’s really unlikely I’m going to take up hindi tuitions again.

There are parts of my Indian-ness that can’t be erased by any length away, but there are other parts that I suppose get sealed in amber. A nostalgia can set in, where everything back home gets a soft instagram glow or is an exotic ‘other’ reality.

I am aware of that diaspora cliche, and try not to let it influence everything.

Q. How do you approach each artwork? I’ve seen that you sketch first and then work on it digitally? Does an idea strike you and you develop it or is your creative process more haphazard?

I make notes and either email them to myself (on a long never ending email thread creatively called “Drawing Ideas”)

Half the time I don’t get to create a fraction of the ideas, (some are rubbish) but the ones I keep thinking about or mentally returning to are the ones I start doing a quick small thumbnail sketch for. As I think about each theme I create on-going image reference boards on pinterest that can include both articles or just images. I don’t use all the references but once I start drawing it’s handy to have them ready.

I don’t have an organised approach to construction of the drawing: It isn’t planned in advance. The thumbnail sketch is really just a rough idea, it would look just like a random scribble to anyone else. I use the theme, a general idea for a layout as a base and then work in the details bit by bit. If I had planned entire drawings out in advance the process would become so much more tedious.

For my painting nothing is digital. For some other work where I think there may be edits, I draw, ink it in then scan, and digitally colour. Saptan stories is all on paper including colour 

Q. Stemming from that, could you give us a back-story / dissection of a few artworks? My personal curiosity lies in the following pieces:

1. Bucket Bath

I like to take breaks from darker themes and alternate with more abstract, dreamscapes. This is a dreamy, abstract world, with unknown things floating beneath. Pinterest references were essential in this one, for all the deep sea creatures. Bucket baths are a common childhood reference, but there always comes a point when you realise you can’t fit anymore. I want the viewer to decide what it may or may not mean.

2. Lesbians Riding Ponies

A Gaytopia – but even in Gaytopia there are clouds on the horizon.  

This was inspired by feeling very isolated from the gay community. Up until a few years ago I had almost no lesbian friends in London and not being much of a ‘scene’ or ‘clubber’ sort of person I found it hard to meet people. Another artist friend (a ‘gateway lesbian’) introduced me to some people and that inspired parts of this drawing. My Little Pony, the gayest toy there is, was part of the inspiration.

3. The Queen

It’s the sister drawing to ‘The Breeders’. Motherhood as both elevated and a prison.

Once a termite queen is fertilised by the male, she will crawl underground to lay eggs and will never see the sunlight again. They swell up to 4-5 times the size of the drone workers and are not really be able to move. If the termites need to flee the nest the queen must be carried by the workers. Her entire body grows and expands, to become this grotesque pulsating birthing machine.  

The trap of motherhood has always interested and horrified me. Society is always telling us how valuable, important, natural and essential it is but simultaneously mothers will be discriminated in various ways, from doctors treating them, to employers, to just bearing the burden of the daily drudgery of child rearing. It’s a trap. And once you are trapped there is no escape. Mothers will be both elevated as queens but also chained. I wanted to make this hideen horror visible. I used bright, jewel, almost lurid colours to jar visually in contrast to the subject. 

Q. I love how there are often multiple characters doing strange things in your paintings, and the works are so rich and layered. How did you arrive at this style? (I’m particularly interested in the choice of mythology-inspired imagery and the bird faces!)

I arrived at this style by accident and it evolved over several years. I was drawing with biro in school note books before I went to art school and was slowly making them more and more complex, adding more items into each. My MA tutors at college helped shift my drawings from black and white on shitty A4 pieces of note paper into larger scale, on richer paper and in colour. I really resisted this change initially. Habits die hard! But once I dived into bigger scale and vibrant colour I couldn’t go back. I kept the size of my drawings the same, but just extended the paper.

The bird heads started because I was obsessed with Egyptian mythology at one point, and simultaneously was vaguely thinking about femininity, androgendy, gender and detachment. I used the animal headed people to visually represent one or all of these. Over time they’ve gotten abstracted into characters who still play with ideas of gender, detachment and sexuality.

Q. Who are some artists that you are absolutely in love with, and who have been influences in your work?

Past: Comic books, Amar Chitra Katha, Mario de Miranda, MAD magazine, Persian & Mughal miniatures, where is waldo.

My mom also has a lot of indian art around the house, like Tanjore & Mysore paintings, Pattachitra. Botanical drawings in nature books (it would be an entire rainforest scene with about 50 animals and insects painted in and numbered with info about each on the side).

Classic Euro artists: Rembrandt, Gauguin, Van Gogh. so on. Standard set of mostly men. (my parents had a set of 10 art books. All male, all European)

Currently so many: Mu Pan, Heikala, Ness Lee, Sonia Alins, Elsa Moraint, Tara Books, Yuko Shimizu, Noelle Stevenson, Alison Bechdel, Lucy Sparrow felt artist, Liza Lou, Outsider art like Henry Darger, Yashasvi Mathis, Rajniperera, Andrea Heimer. My Kadak contemporaries like Aindri Chakraborty, Garima Gupta, Mira Malhotra, and loads more. 

Q. Are you mildly obsessed with baths, and the act of bathing? I’m so curious about its reappearance in your artworks.

This question made me laugh. People at my old job used to constantly ask me why I spent so much time in the loo.

I do enjoy chilling out in the loo, just sitting and thinking. I find an enclosed, locked space very peaceful.

I dislike baths however – I like them as an idea and I enjoy old fashioned claw foot baths as beautiful objects or outdoor lily ponds but in reality I find sitting in a luke warm tub very tedious. I would prefer if our loo had a great power shower.

Q. ‘To be feminine means to be comfortable with discomfort’. The themes of gender, identity, feminism, society and the idea of being besharam come up repeatedly in your body of work. Is art a means of activism for you as well?

Art is a way of communication for me. So anything I think about will translate into visual work. I have a lot of rage, and short of yelling about it in all caps on facebook I find it more productive to visualise it.  I think it may be more personal than activist. Some things just happen to coincide. My sketch book is more random and playful. I’m really enjoying taking the sketch book on holiday and drawing from life.

Q. Do you consciously steer your work towards these themes, or is it inherently your style?

It’s my deep, dark, secret fantasy to draw beautiful pretty pictures with no particular meaning and paint in soft delicious watercolours like Heikala or Studio Ghibli, but while I can do this sometimes, it doesn’t come as naturally or easily. It’s a little like Jack the Pumpkin king trying to take over Christmas. Everything he touches just turns into Halloween. That’s the best explanation I have for it.

Q. I’m sure that being a part of Kadak has also shaped you as an artist and woman. Could you tell me a little about the collaborative element and how being a part of a feminist collective has moulded your work? What’s the latest Kadak project that’s keeping you busy?

Collaborating with others is a fear I’ve always had. It combines 2 things I like least: Admin/organisation and people skills and mashes them up. Kadak on the other hand, has been great that way, really democratic, really thoughtful and organisation largely online. we can choose to opt in or out of projects, depending on our current work. Right now I’m working on a very small abstract visual piece for Gender Bender on breasts.

Q. I loved your illustrated essay ‘Everything Drag’ for Gender Bender ’16 and how you’ve incorporated interesting cultural references. How did the narrative come about? How’s the 2018 submission on breasts coming along?

Most of my work tends to be personal rather than journalistic, so for the first Gender Bender when we got the subject, I knew I wanted to do something on being a person that presents sort of feminine but isn’t really, and how that confuses people. I had also noticed on social media that when you post a picture clearly presenting as more feminine (more so than usual, glam hair, looking girly etc) or if you are gay as more butch presenting, you will get a load more positive reactions. People like to see that 2 sided binary. Uber girly or masculine. I wanted to explore that, and how it’s a little like wearing a costume.

Breasts will be quite different: While I’ve researched, am following so many breast related contemporary issues (Breast feeding in public, nipple bans for women, consumer cultures obsession with them, porn vs utility) I didn’t want it to be researched or written. I want to explore more abstract feelings of revulsion I’ve had about breasts (only my own).

Q. It’s obviously taken a lot of dedication, time and practice to have become the artist that you are. What’s the biggest challenge being an artist, and what’s the most rewarding part of it?

The most challenging is making and carving out time. I find it difficult to focus sometimes when I come home from work, or when other life admin gets in the way. 

Other challenges are: Not procrastinating; I want each thing I make to have some thought in it; challenging myself to draw differently; draw faster and more efficiently; try different mediums. I used to think my style was tied to the medium I used (ball pen) but I’ve finally shaken that off and am experimenting with various. It’s been fun painting more and using biro less.

The rewarding part is finishing a drawing, looking at it and feeling a sense of satisfaction. Sure some things could be better, but this turned out ok. It’s really satisfying when you don’t think it’ll turn out well but it does in the end.

Q. How’s 2018 looking for you? Any shows coming up after Otherlands?

2016-2018 has been full of lots of change and loads of life admin. I bought a house with my partner and recently quit my design day job of 9 years. I’d like to do another show soon but I feel like the last few years really took large chunks of my creative time away. I want to just make more work first, then have a show maybe next year. I’ll need to hunt for a new job shortly, so let’s see how that goes first. I’ve been meaning to do a show in London for ages, but time & money have been prohibitive.

Research: Abortifacients, Emmenagogues & The History of Women’s Reproductive Health

Notes and research articles on my painting ‘The Harvest’, which you can find here


Emmenagogues are herbs which stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus; some stimulate menstruation. Women use emmenagogues to stimulate menstrual flow when menstruation is absent for reasons other than pregnancy, such as hormonal disorders or conditions like oligomenorrhea.


abortifacient (“that which will cause a miscarriage” from Latin: abortus “miscarriage” and faciens “making”) is a substance that induces abortion.

Source: wiki/Emmenagogue

Although it isn’t mentioned above (conveniently) it should also be noted that emmenagogues are also used to stimulate menstrual flow when menstruation is absent because of an unwanted pregnancy.

Since most of the commissioners, painters and doctors used to be men, the history of women, midwives and most importantly women’s health and medical choices tends to be invisible and/or restricted.

Interestingly anti-choice people have grown more virulent and intolerant in our modern era. Abortion/induced miscarriage in medieval times (Europe) was considered acceptable up until 6 months. Life wasn’t considered to exist until the foetus had ‘quickened’ or moved. Sometimes not even until birth.

Some interesting articles and research sources below

Medieval Csection
Medieval C Section. No anaesthetic.

“There was enormous demand, throughout the medieval, Tudor, and Stuart periods, for abortifacient herbs, with many effective recipes and a plentiful supply. John Gerard in his comprehensive Herbal (1597) names only four herbs commonly used to assist barren women with conception, against more than sixty herbs used to induce menstruation after one or two missed periods.

What will surprise most readers is that Christian women, in great numbers, used abortifacients during the first months of pregnancy with no greater scruple of conscience than when taking an emetic or a laxative for digestive ailments. For the first seventeen centuries of Christianity, no authority of record, either Catholic or Protestant, taught or suggested that the fetus during the first two or three months after insemination was a human being. Ensoulment or quickening was an act of God: in His own good time – typically, in the third or fourth month – God infused the dormant seed with a human soul, created ex nihilo. Christian embryology was modeled on observation of plant life: seeds deposited in the autumn show no sign of life until germination the spring, at which time one seed may become “alive” while the other rots in the ground, never to become a tree. Like transubstantiation, the doctrine of ensoulment mystified nature for the glory of God: it was deemed an essential point of Christian ontology that the individual life was created by an act of the Almighty in Heaven and not by a horizontal act of the parents. The child received nothing from its parents but flesh and blood, and its innately sinful condition. ”

via Reproductive Rights Vol. 2

Peacock Flower 3
Peacock flower growing in my mother’s garden

The aptly named Peacock Flower (Poinciana pulcherrima). The flowers, seeds, barks and roots are reportedly used as emmenagogues and abortifacients.

Another South-asian abortifacient is the green papaya. The toxin in the unripe fruit can cause first trimester miscarriages. wild carrot soup (daucus carota) is also popularly used.

Peacock Flower Jezebel Illustration
Image by Jim Cooke, original illustration by Maria Sibylla Merian in the Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam

“The peacock flower (or flos pavonis) – One of the most striking records of the plant comes from German-born botanical illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian who, in her 1705 book Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam, recounts: “The Indians, who are not treated well by their Dutch masters, use the seeds [of this plant] to abort their children, so that their children will not become slaves like they are. The black slaves from Guinea and Angola have demanded to be well treated, threatening to refuse to have children. They told me this themselves.”

Merian’s own account of the peacock flower is a vast departure from her contemporaries and a truly remarkable record. Though short, her description ascribes rationality to the act of abortion which, in the hands of Surinam’s slave women, is an act of resistance: a reclamation of their bodies and reproductive processes—neither of which, by legal standards of the eighteenth century, they owned. Equally striking about Merian’s description is the plainness of her language, her open usage of the word “abortion,” and the directness of the plant’s illicit uses. Merian does not moralize about the usage of the seeds: she simply conveys what other women have told her.”

Source: The History of Abortifacients 

Artemisia absinthum (Wormwood)
Artemisia absinthum (Wormwood)

“This ninth century recipe appeared in the Lorsch Manuscript, a medical treatise written by Benedictine monks:

A Cure for All Kinds of Stomach Aches
For women who cannot purge themselves, it moves the menses.

8 oz. white pepper
8 oz. ginger
6 oz. parsley
2 oz. celery seeds
6 oz. caraway
6 oz. spignel seeds
2 oz. fennel
2 oz. geranium/ or, giant fennel
8 oz. cumin
6 oz. anise
6 oz. opium poppy

These recipes did not come out of the blue. There is evidence that similar abortifacients had been used as far back as ancient Egypt. Pepper had been used since the Roman period as a contraceptive, and fennel is related to silphium, the ancient plant farmed to extinction for its contraceptive properties. The other ingredients have been found to have antifertility effects, and the opium was used as a sedative.

In addition to those mentioned above, artemisa and juniper were both known to inhibit fertility. Artemisia is a genus of plant in the daisy family asteraceae. There are more than two hundred types of artemisia, among them mugwort, tarragon, and wormwood, the key ingredient in absinthe centuries later. In the twelfth century, Trotula recommended artemisia as a “menstrual stimulator” and in the thirteenth century, Arnald of Villanova advised taking it with capers for maximum efficacy. Modern medicine has confirmed its use: artemisia inhibits estrogen production and can prevent ovulation much like pharmaceutical contraceptives today.

Artemisia was not without its side effects. Wormwood is a notorious toxin known to cause hallucinations and changes in consciousness. Ingested in large quantities, it can cause seizures and kidney failure. (2)

Juniper had been used as a contraceptive since the Roman period. Pliny the Elder recommended rubbing crushed juniper berries on the penis before sex to prevent conception. Its popularity continued throughout the Middle Ages; Arabic medical writers Rhazes, Serapion the Elder, and ibn Sina all list it as an abortifacient, and this knowledge was made more readily available throughout Europe when Gerard of Cremona translated their words in the twelfth century. According to ibn Sina, juniper produced an effect very similar to a natural miscarriage, and so it could be employed without detection.

Historian John Riddle argues that all women knew which plants inhibited fertility and how to use them effectively. They were under no illusions as to their purpose. Although most of what we know about medieval contraception and abortion does come from medical texts written by men, they would have come by the information from women who were using it on a regular basis.

source: Sex, Contraception, and Abortion in Medieval England

Abortifacient: Cotton Root Bark
Abortifacient: Cotton Root Bark

In one report, Saint Cainnech of Aghaboe (Saint Canice) is said to have “blessed the belly” of a pregnant nun – making the baby disappear instantly. In another account, Saint Ciarán of Saigir rescued a nun named Bruinnech after she was abused by a local king. The report claims ,

“When the man of God returned to the monastery with the girl, she confessed that she was pregnant. Then the man of God, led by the zeal of justice, not wishing the serpent’s seed to quicken, pressed down on her womb with the sign of the cross and forced her womb to be emptied.”

Statue of Saint Canice, Catholic St.Canice Church, Kilkenny, Ireland. (CC BY SA 3.0)

Statue of Saint Canice, Catholic St.Canice Church, Kilkenny, Ireland. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

But Saint Brigid is perhaps the most well-known saint linked to abortions in Ireland. Stories saythe saint met a young woman who had an unwanted pregnancy and “Brigid, exercising with the most strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, caused the fetus to disappear without coming to birth, and without pain.” This was recorded in 650 AD, making it the oldest account of an abortion in Ireland.

Source: Did Irish Medieval Saints perform abortions?

Dittany at Heraklion Archeological Museum (Photo by me)

“Dittany (Dictamnus albus), a herb of the mint family, was believed by the Greeks and Romans to induce menstruation and to expel a dead (or live?) fetus. It has both contraceptive and abortive effects. About 3 g of dittany seeds was given to terminate a pregnancy in the third month, less in earlier months.”

via Herbal contraceptives, abortifacients & birth control

Ancient silver coin from Cyrene depicting a stalk of Silphium

The ancient Greek colony of Cyrene at one time had an economy based almost entirely on the production and export of the plant silphium, considered a powerful abortifacient. Silphium figured so prominently in the wealth of Cyrene that the plant appeared on coins minted there. Silphium, which was native only to that part of Libya, was over-harvested by the Greeks and was effectively driven to extinction.

In aboriginal Australia, plants such as cymbidium madidum, petalostigma pubescens, Eucalyptus gamophylla were ingested or the body or vagina was smoked with Erythropleum chlorostachyum.

As Christianity and in particular the institution of the Catholic Church increasingly influenced European society, those who dispensed abortifacient herbs found themselves classified as witches and were often persecuted in witch-hunts.

Medieval Muslim physicians documented detailed and extensive lists of birth control practices, including the use of abortifacients, commenting on their effectiveness and prevalence. The use of abortifacients was acceptable to Islamic jurists provided that the abortion occurs within 120 days of conception, the time when the fetus is considered to become fully human and receive its soul.

In English law, abortion did not become illegal until 1803. English folk practice before and after that time held that fetal life was not present until quickening. “Women who took drugs before that time would describe their actions as ‘restoring the menses’ or ‘bringing on a period’.” Abortifacients used by women in England in the 19th century (not necessarily safe or effective) included diachylon, savin, ergot of rye, pennyroyal, nutmeg, rue, squills, and hiera picra, the latter being a mixture of powdered aloe and canella.

During the American slavery period, 18th and 19th centuries, cotton root bark was used in folk remedies to induce a miscarriage.

Source: wikipedia Abortifacient

Why A Pro-Life World Has A Lot of Dead Women In It

El Salvador has a “culture of life.” There, abortion is banned for any reason. Estimates from the Ministry of Health put the number of illegal abortions performed at 19,290 between 2005 and 2008. However, it’s difficult to trace illegal activity properly, so some other estimates claim this is closer to the annual average. We do know, from a 2011 study by the World Health Organization that 11 percent of the women undergoing these illegal abortions die. That is, at the bare minimum, over 2,000 women.

Amnesty International reports that suicide now accounts for 57 percent of deaths of pregnant females ages 10-19 in El Salvador. Because in an attempt to terminate their pregnancies, women are “ingesting rat poison or other pesticides, and thrusting knitting needles, pieces of wood and other sharp objects into the cervix.”

It was not so long ago that women in the United States were in a position similar to the one women in El Salvador find themselves in today.

Before the passage of Roe. Vs. Wade in 1973, it’s estimated that between 250 and 8,000 American women were dying per year of illegal abortions.

Today, in the United States, women experience complications from safe, legal abortion less than one percent of the time. And whether or not anyone talks about it, it’s a common medical procedure—30 percent of women in the U.S. have had a safe, legal abortion.

Source: Why A Pro-Life World Has A Lot of Dead Women In It

Abortion in America: In 2007, two disabled women complained about being forced to have abortions. Brett Kavanaugh, pro-lifer, ruled against them

Many Americans, probably most, understand the abortion debate to be about a struggle between the right of women to bodily autonomy and the “right to life” that anti-choicers claim embryos and fetuses have. In reality, as this case shows, the legal debate is really only about autonomy — so much so that an anti-choice judge like Kavanaugh ruled against women who wanted  to “choose life,” as conservatives say, rather than allow them a greater measure of autonomy.

“Maybe this is an uncharitable interpretation, but it really makes it clear, in my mind, that the issue isn’t abortion. It’s about controlling people,” Samantha Crane, legal director of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, told Salon.

The case is a complex one, but the basic story involved three women who received care from the District of Columbia Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration. All three women had intellectual disabilities and had been determined legally incompetent. One woman had an elective eye surgery and two had abortions, all chosen for them without any consideration of their wishes. The women argued that they had a right to have their wishes considered, but Kavanaugh ruled against them.

“It’s startling to see a judge say that the expressed wishes of people with disabilities are wholly irrelevant,” Jennifer Mathis, the deputy legal director the Bazelon Center of Mental Health Law, explained.

Source: Abortion in America: In 2007, two disabled women complained about being forced to have abortions. Kavanaugh ruled against them

Documents of interest on Abortifacients 

Academic Studies

Kadak Reading Room Event Photos


Over the past few months, the Kadak Collective has been working to create a set of graphic narratives about breasts. From moobs to masectomy to the male gaze, a variety of perspectives on the same subject matter.

We were one of nine grantees for this year’s Gender Bender, a joint project of Sandbox Collective and Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan.

The artists, illustrators, and designers in this chapter of Kadak are Aarthi Parthasarathy, Akhila Krishnan, Janine Shroff, Kritika Trehan, Mira Malhotra, Pavithra Dikshit, Priya Dali, Rae Zachariah, Sanika Palsikar, Shreyas R Krishnan

Our work, along with our expanding traveling Reading Room, and work by the other grantees is on exhibit at Goethe-Institut Bangalore, August 24 from 5-7pm (preview) & Aug 25-26, 12-7pm.

Read all our zines here

Thanks to Aarthi Parthasarathy, Rae Zachariah, Chaitanya Krishnan, Anushree and Sunanda who set up the exhibition.

Event photos by Aarthi Parthasarathy.

Kadak Reading Room 24 to 27 Aug: GenderBender 2018

I’ll be exhibiting my short zine/illustrated story on breasts (great subject no?) with of the Kadak Collective for Gender Bender 2018 at the Goethe-Institut Bangalore.
Opening 24 August
5 – 7 PM
25 & 26 August
12 – 7 PM
716, CMH Road
Indiranagar 1st Stage
Bangalore 560 038, India
Do go check out our awesome Kadak Reading Room – a travelling library of our zines: with zines from: Akhila Krishnan, Aarthi Parthasarathy, Pavithra Dikshit, Garima Gupta, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan, Aindri Chakraborty, Mira Malhotra, Shreyas Krishnan, Anjora Noronha, Kruttika Sussarla, Jamie Tan, Upasana Agarwal, Supriya Tirkey, Nausheen Javed, Asavari Kumar, Diana Chu, Nandini Moitra, Shaivalini Kumar & me.
Holy Great Balls of Fire Batman, what a great ladies fest! I wish I was there. I want to read everyones zine.
For those who can’t make it some zines will be on our online reading room. Links will go live on the 24th https://medium.com/kadak


Saptan Stories – week 7 The Final Part

All good things must come to an end! The last part of the story jigsaw falls into place…

See the complete story here >>

“They say love is ephemeral but isn’t that true of life too? As my iridescent body emerged from the shadows, I felt reborn. Suddenly I loved every inch of myself, and isn’t that the greatest love of all?” – Jasmine Kaur

Kadak Reading Room @ BOLD, Opening photos

Event photos from our Read Room @ BOLD, an exhibition of South Asian design at the Rich Mix, London.

A visual feast of posters, zines, films, typography and digital works that reveal the vibrancy and diversity of work underway in India’s visual communications scene. Part of the celebration of 70 years of independence from British rule

Featuring: Animal / BOB / Design Fabric / Ishan Khosla Design / Kadak / Kulture Shop / Roshnee Desai / Shweta Malhotra

Exhibition continues From the 7th until 30th September

Mon-Sat: 9am-11pm
Sun: 10am-11pm

Rich Mix, London
35-47 Bethnal Green Road,
London E1 6LA


Event Photos

It’s Nice That:

Got featured on It’s Nice That as part of BOLD (south Asian design exhibition at the Rich Mix running til the 30th of sept)

Got featured on It’s Nice That as part of BOLD (south Asian design exhibition at the Rich Mix running til the 30th of sept)

And that is nice!

“Kadak is a collective of Indian female designers who work with graphic storytelling. “‘Kadak’ is often used to describe the strong, sharp tea served in India and is an apt description for the work created by this collective,” Arpna explains. “Following multiple streams of enquiry, their explicitly political work tackles cultural issues head-on both in terms of the personal and the public experience. “

Read the full article

Kadak at BOLD @ Richmix Exhibition, London

Please join us for the opening of our latest exhibition Bold, in London. A visual feast of posters, zines, films, typography and digital works that reveal the vibrancy and diversity of work underway in India’s visual communications scene. Part of the celebration of 70 years of independence from British rule


Some of My Framed Prints for sale also

Featuring: Animal / BOB / Design Fabric / Ishan Khosla Design / Kadak / Kulture Shop / Roshnee Desai / Shweta Malhotra


Exhibition continues From the 7th until 30th September

Mon-Sat: 9am-11pm

Sun: 10am-11pm

Rich Mix, London

35-47 Bethnal Green Road

London E1 6LA


Some of the zines & work on show

  • Kadak Zine – Featuring All, designed by Mira
  • Green Period – Aindri Chakraborty
  • Thank You – Aindri Chakraborty
  • Boy Cut – Garima Gupta
  • Unfolding The Saree – Mira Malhotra
  • 100 Days of Travellers in Red – Akhila Krishnan
  • Royal Existentials – Aarthi parthasarathy
  • Everything Drag – Janine Shroff
  • Discipline – Pavithra Dikshit
  • My Secret Crop – Kaveri Gopalakrishnan
  • Misfits I and II – Kaveri Gopalakrishnan
  • Shifting – Pavithra Dikshit
  • Aloe Vera And The Void – Renuka Rajiv & Aarthi Parthasarathy
  • The Same, Everywhere – Aarthi parthasarathy & Kaveri Gopalakrishnan
  • Alone But Not Lonely – Akhila Krishnan


Janine Shroff
Lesbian riding ponies, 2015
Limited edition signed Giçlee prints on heavy-weight fine art paper, Framed
42.0 x 59.4cm (A2)

Rape Rick, 2012
Original, Acrylic & Mixed Media on paper,
42.0 x 59.4cm (A2)
not for sale

Bucket Bath, 2014
Limited edition signed Giçlee prints on heavy-weight fine art paper, Framed
59.4cm x 42.0 (A2)


Saptan Stories Interview – Youth ki Awaaz

A nice article/ artist interview on YouthkiAwaaz on Saptan stories:

What excites you most about being part of Saptan Stories?

I really like the unknown quality of what may happen with a live, evolving story, created by the public. It’s both a little scary and exciting because anything can happen. My favourite story of recent years was the one in which there was a public vote to name the polar research ship and submarine. And instead of the planned, serious names, the public went with Boaty Mcboatface. You have to love the public sometimes. I’m still upset they refused to name it that!

Read More

Original artist interview for British Council India here


Saptan Stories – Week 5

The Story continues…

“I was falling through what seemed like a long tunnel, blinded by lights. I somehow landed on my two feet and found myself in a large hall. Walls covered in photographs. Photographs of my entire life.”

In case you forgot how it goes: 7 weeks, 7 artists, one story etc:

Read the rest of the story here and submit your own line >>


#saptanstories #illustration #drawing #ukindia2017 #sketch #story #storytelling #purple #art

Saptan Stories – Week 3 WIP Process

Thought I’d show the step by step working process for last weeks illustration for #SaptanStories:

I usually start with small thumbnails or a rough sketch.

Hands usually need a reference and I used my own here.

Once I’m happy with the sketch, it gets inked up and then at last on to the colouring. (The fun part)

I used felt pens for this project as they are fast, I can use them on the go (my lunch break) and they also restricted the colour palette. (I’m very indecisive!)

The dark colours I laid over the light and blended the edges with a lighter colour or a blender as these felt pens are great for that.

And there we are! No photoshop just scan, crop and upload.

Start to finish analog eshstyle

See the ongoing story here https://saptan-stories.britishcouncil.org.in/story and submit your idea for the next part – If it’s selected by public vote we will all illustrate it

just a few more weeks to go!

Saptan Stories – Week 4

JanineShroff_week4Saptan Stories completed illustration week 4

“Before I could utter an answer, my heart made the choice. How she heard its silent cry, I do not know. The lake opened and a chasm appeared. I was sucked into a whirlpool of water, light and chaos.”
7 artists, 7 weeks, 1 Story: A 7 week long collaborative arts event; a mass game of consequences written and voted on by all of India.
Click on the link for the other artists interpretations and to see the full story on the British Council.In site https://saptan-stories.britishcouncil.org.in/story

Saptan Stories – Week 3


“It was a woman, as translucent as fog and as ethereal as a dream. She smiled at me and whispered in a voice as soft as a dewdrop “Love once lost can be regained, but are you willing to pay the price?”

I found this a little tricky but really fun to colour in. I’m really enjoying the speed of this new medium. Its refreshing to finish something in 2 days.

7 artists, 7 weeks, 1 Story: A 7 week long collaborative arts event; a mass game of consequences written and voted on by all of India.

Click on the link to see the other artist illustrations, the previous part of the story and also submit what you think the next part should be!


Saptan Stories – Week 2

Janine Shroff_week2

“As the moonbeams danced to a heavenly beat upon the silvery water, I gazed to the stars and contemplated my future. It looked bleak on introspection, when out of the water arose an apparition.”

And the Story goes on!

Saptan Stories week 2 is done! (Above )

This went live last week (12th Aug) – Up to date posts on instagram

7 artists, 7 weeks, 1 Story: A 7 week long collaborative arts event; a mass game of consequences written and voted on by all of India.

Click on the link to see the other artist illustrations, the previous part of the story and also submit what you think the next part should be!


Saptan Stories – Week 1


“I found it hard to get over my broken heart, I thought I never would. Then one night, by the moonlit river, something happened that changed everything.”

Saptan Stories 1st week’s illustration is out! 7 artists, 7 weeks, 1 Story: A 7 week long collaborative arts event; a mass game of consequences written and voted on by all of India.

New illustration will go live Saturday 12th August

Click on the link to see the other artist illustrations and also submit your story for the next week


Sketchup Talk @KharAntiSocial

Thanks to everyone who came to the New Years Day Sketchup to hear me talk about my work. (Hungover or otherwise)

And thanks to all who stayed back to sketch vaginas for Vagina Monday (post about that to follow!)

Many thanks to Madhuvanthi Mohan for organising and hosting.

Photo of my talk by Riddhi Parekh


Talking about Vagina Mondays (my for-fun tumblr/facebook feed of vagina related art/culture/info)



Curious Symbolism

"Picnic en Combray" de Helena Perez Garcia
“Picnic en Combray” de Helena Perez Garcia

Impossible to view the inclusion of pomegranates in paintings without an eye out for its highly muddled symbolism of fertility, abundance, contraception and loss of fecundity, death and resurrection – via various casually googled sources.

– The pomegranate is the symbol of Armenia and represents fertility, abundance and marriage. For example, the fruit played an integral role in a wedding custom widely practiced in ancient Armenia: a bride was given a pomegranate fruit, which she threw against a wall, breaking it into pieces. Scattered pomegranate seeds ensured the bride future children.

– Modern testing has shown that pomegranate does have contraceptive effects. However the effectiveness has varied between species, in two studies sited pomegranate reduced fertility in female rats by 50% and in female guinea pigs by an impressive 100%. This does not mean that pomegranate will have the same effect in women, but the possibility for a reduction in fertility defiantly exists. Both animal types regained their fertility forty days after they stopped receiving pomegranate.

– Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition

– Animal studies have shown that pomegranate may be an effective abortifacient.

– It is traditional to consume pomegranates on Rosh Hashana because, with its numerous seeds, it symbolizes fruitfulness

– The ancient forefathers of medicine, Hippocrates, Soranus, Dioscorides, to name a few, prescribed the seeds and rind of the pomegranate to prevent conception.

– The mythology of ancient Greece regarded this fruit as the symbol of life, marriage and rebirth in the abduction story of Persephone by Hades, the god of the underworld.

– In Ancient Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the “fruit of the dead”, and believed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis

– The fruit, broken or bursting open, is a symbol of the fullness of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection.

– Some Jewish scholars believe that it was the pomegranate, not the apple, that was the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden

– In some Hindu traditions, the pomegranate (Hindi: anār) symbolizes prosperity and fertility, and is associated with both Bhoomidevi (the earth goddess) and Lord Ganesha (the one fond of the many-seeded fruit).

– The Tamil name maadulampazham is a metaphor for a woman’s mind. It is derived from, maadhu=woman, ullam=mind, which means as the seeds are hidden, it is not easy to decipher a woman’s mind.

V is for Valentine


‘V is for Valentine’

Belated Valentines & In Advance Vagina Monday.


V is for Valentine 1
‘V Is for Valentine’

V is for Valentine 2
‘V Is for Valentine’

V is for Valentine 3
Sketch Book – ‘V Is for Valentine’ page 1

V is for Valentine 4
Sketch Book – ‘V Is for Valentine’ page 2


Exhibition Prints Sale

A1 x 4 Limited Edition Giçlee prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 310 gsm a heavy-weight fine art paper with a smooth matt finish, from high-res detailed scans of all the originals. Each print will also come with a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity.

  1. Turkish Bath
  2. Pool
  3. The Tea Party
  4. High Tea

Click here to buy



Moving Parts

Lots of moving parts!

This summer has been pretty stressful. Although I had lots of fun illustrations projects (which I can’t share because although I prefer my gratification instantly other people are really, really slow about publishing things. Sigh. NOW NOW NOW ) they were virtually simultaneously AND we were looking for a house AND I really hate admin. So.

Mega stress.

I’m glad 2015 is nearly over. I’m looking forward to going home in a month to the Bom for NRI season.

Hopefully in 2016 I’ll have:

  1. More work (although I think I did a lot over the summer)
  2. Trying to paint in straight up acrylic. Maybe this will speed things up. The pen texture will be lost but it might free me up more.
  3. Less wasting time on photos. I cut out my blog now time to cut the photos.
  4. A London show
  5. Another Bombay show when it can be arranged.
  6. A reduction of admin in my life. (I know this will never happen. )
  7. A cat.
  8. I really really want a cat.
    Maybe if we move.
    will the cat pee on my drawings? Will it sit on them?
    Who knows, Most likely I’d say.

Speaking of cats, I finally finished a drawing I done in-between all the other work and life admin.

Larger version here >


Btw: Someone sent me an article in the midday where I am mentioned in reference to art waffle but I haven’t read it yet. I’m too tired.

The author initially wanted me to write stuff about art waffle but the second I tried I realised I wouldn’t be able to write about academise because even writing academise gibberish actually makes my skin crawl. Perhaps someone else can read it and explain it to me? Via conceptual sculpture or dance preferably. Followed by an explanation about the concept that makes no sense and uses a bunch of academic art waffle strung together.

Midday Article here >> 

Long-Time No Spam

Ah it’s been so long since I had good Spam.

(Unrelated featured image from an old sketchbook. It’s a found bit of card for spiritual ‘healers’ that were scattered all over Brixton at one point. I had a collection)


– Oh my

Pardon me for Contacting You Through this media. But please I am in Desperate Need of your assistance; My Name is YAMATTY SIBAYAN the wife of Mr. MATALAM SIBAYAN Mayor of Rizal in Cagayan Province. Who Was recently in the Philippine Killed by Gunmen on JUNE 12TH 2014.


– My deepest condolences for the death of your fake husband.

Well Threat During the late husband on my life ,He gave me the total sum of U.S. $ 5,500.000 (Five million Five hundred Thousand united states dollars) and asks me to put it in a metallic box .

– Well threat indeed. But I’m glad she spelled out the amount for me. I was almost going to start counting the zeros on one hand

Then deposit it in a security and finance company abroad just in case anything ever Happen to him .

– I’m glad she already mentioned he was dead or I’d start to get an ominous premonition right about now that our Dear dear Mr. SIBAYAN is bound have an unfortunate accident

I did deposit the total sum as He gave it to me under a secret arrangement as a family valuable.

– What a good wife.

This Means That the security company does Not Know the content of this metallic box.

– Sure, reliable security companies never ask you to disclose the contents of mysterious metal boxes. Or require insurance papers filled.

Since the death of my late husband , the Philippine state government has blocked me and my late husband accounts Through the help of my late husband family. Also my late husband brothers succeeded in Collecting Have All Our properties from me That is under my control and They Are Still looking for more.

– Those villains!

Therefore I am Contacting you to help me secure the sum Which I Explain to you above , for the future of my kids. Since my late husband family made it impossible for me to move out of my late husband in Philippine house

– Those late villains!

Please do tell me if I can trust you as Who Will Not sit on this money When You Claim it.

– But I do enjoy sitting on money. I like it when the notes and coins get faintly warm and sweaty.

I am willing to Give you 20% of the total sum in box After That You Have successfully secured it. Reasons for safety so That I can come over to meet you there in your country for you to help me invest the money in a good business

– Wait, I thought your villainous in-laws had you under lockdown? Are you planning on escaping and if so what is your plan? I feel like you might be underestimating their  villainy.

Also I don’t know anything about business. I just like to sit on money.

i will like to hear from you so that i will Immediately know if i can trust you with all my heart and if you are capable so that i Can send you my pictures

– I hope these pictures are nudes

and my international passport and all the documents so That You Will Better Understand and I will wait your message on my private Best regards

– if you are sending nudes I sinceriously (sincere + seriously) hope they include your privates lady.


New Work Kulture Shop & Other Stuff

News News News.

1. New work for Kulture Shop Up here

2. One of the many artists featured here (not sure why it’s a gendered list but I’ll take it!)

Polka Cafe: Top Women Illustrators in India

3. I also FINALLY had business cards made.

Now just to work out how I hand these out, awkwardly, like a doofus.

Maybe I should do it Japanese Businessman style, both hands presenting card edges while bowing slightly “Please accept this humble persons worthless card.”

Biz card back

Biz card front