Vilma Bharatan’s childhood was spent among a wide variety of food cultures in Tanzania, East Africa, and Kerala and Tamil Nadu in South India. She now lives in London.

At a young age Vilma taught herself painting, and used her love of chemistry to create her own pigments and paints. She took a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, and in the 1980s she moved to London and worked for the petrochemical industry. At the same time she entered formal art training part-time at Chelsea School of Art and then at St Oswald Studios. 

Having seen the effects of lifestyle stresses on the health of her colleagues in the petrochemical industry, Vilma changed her career to study and practice homeopathy. Her interest in medicinal plants led to a PhD at the University of Reading, with the research undertaken at the Natural History Museum in London and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. As part of her PhD, she gave public talks on food plants at the Natural History Museum, illustrated by her own photographs. She began combining photography with fine art techniques to create memorable images full of food plant personality.

Vilma has been a practising homeopath since 1991, working with people towards improving their health and preventing illness through their food choices. She was the research co-ordinator for biomedicine for five NHS GP surgeries in Haringey, London from 2003 to 2016. This gave her insights into attitudes to health and nutrition within varied social and ethnic communities.

All these experiences set her on the path to bring together scientific investigation and philosophic discourse, with art as a medium of story telling in an interdisciplinary celebration of food plants.