Kawal Gujral ”“ an artist who balances passion with profession

By Rekha Rajvanshi and Neena Badhwar

One when heads to Concord Function Centre it is mainly to attend an event, a dinner or a celebration of marriage, birthday or a party just for the sake of it. As you enter the venue it welcomes you with a smile, its calm, cool ambience. Slowly as you settle one can’t but help notice colourful, bright floral paintings, sculptures even some pale silk paintings beautifully framed and displayed on its walls along the foyer, the hallway and the rest. If Manjit Gujral, the owner restaurateur presents his tasty dishes well thought over and innovative ideas through his catering then his pretty wife Kawal, a pleasant and smiling hostess welcomes you to the seats as you proceed towards the hall. Little does one realize that these decorations ”“ paintings, sculptures are all the creations of Kawals’ artistic hands. A young, beautiful, quiet grandma Kawal is proud mother of two chef sons as the Gujrals try to devote their energies into Sydney’s gustation demands and in style. Kawal while playing hostess to Manjit’s events, is a closet artist who has been quietly honing her art on the side. Here we talk to Kawal how she is able to don many hats and still welcome you with open arms and a charming smile.

Kawal, you are a successful business entrepreneur but your passion is art. How do you manage profession and passion together?

I love and enjoy both my profession as well as my passion. After a long week’s work with lots of long hours and hard working days, I find art is my creative outlet. It’s my me-time! When you really love something you find time for it, and for me finding time for my art is not very had because I enjoy it so much. I find that sometimes my artwork and my work mix as well, because so many of my pieces are for decorative purposes for our Concord Function Centre or our Restaurants! So I do end up fusing my art with my work too.

When and where did you start your art journey? Who inspired you?

My journey began when I first moved to Australia, when I would often be required to create fruit carvings, colourful displays for buffets or do floral arrangements for our clients when my husband Manjit and I first started our catering business in 1980’s. I learnt that I really enjoyed this creative and artistic side of our business, and started to find more time for it in my personal life.

When do you find time for your artwork?

In the evenings, or sometimes early mornings before I leave for work,   am able to find some time to add a few strokes to whatever painting I am working on. I enjoy this passion together with my grand daughter now as well, so often I find time to paint with her or do some art with her now!

I have noticed that you also make beautiful pottery. How did you first get involved in ceramics?

Ceramics are a personal interest of mine. I first started these because I wanted to find ways to create pieces for my own home décor. Now I have expanded to creating pieces for our venues, art auctions, and even for friends or clients who want to purchase them. I often donate my ceramic pieces for charity events that we hold as well.  

You are such a wonderful artist, your artworks speak for themselves. How would you describe your work?   How did you arrive at working this way?  

My work has changed a lot over the years. When I first started I was focusing very much on silks, water colours and my subjects were very floral. Over the years I have explored many different subjects in my artwork ”“ ranging from figures, faces, still life, and devotional pieces presented in a modern and fresh way. My most loved subject has always been my Ganesha inspired work, for which I receive a lot of requests from friends and family! It’s become a popular house warming gift for our close friends and it’s always nice to make something personal to give someone close to me.  

You paint using various mediums ”“ acrylic and oil paints. What is your favourite? Does your work reflect any particular art style?

I think everyone’s art style changes a lot depending on what sort of phase of life one is in. Over the years I have experimented with lots of mediums, but now as a grandmother I think my favourite medium is using water based, bright colours with my grand daughter. We both love to throw colours on to a canvas together and see what we can come up with! She’s only 2, so most of our artwork now is very post-modern!

Any plans of exhibiting your beautiful artwork.

I exhibit a lot of my work at our venues, charity events and at our restaurants as décor. I also run annual exhibitions at one of our shop fronts in Balmain, where I find the local demographic to be very appreciative of Indian inspired artwork.

Was there a point in your life that you thought of making art for a living?

Fortunately I have been blessed enough to be able to keep my hobby as just a hobby, rather than having to turn it into an income stream. I think true art comes from the heart, and it is good to have enjoyed freedom in this part of my life.

What are your future plans?

My plans are to continue to paint and sculpt in my spare time”¦ and share this joy and passion with my grand children to come. I often make a lot of art work for my work as well for display purposes, and my next big plan is to make a major work to display at Concord Function Centre for our upcoming charity event.






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