At Amaliah, we’ve started a series talking to women who are championing the art of hobbies. We’ve spoken to Esra Alhamal about the art of Islamic Illumination Azeezat Adeola about mindfulness in knitting, how to get started and knitting for social issues, Neda about pole fitness, body confidence and online trolls, Chaimaa Creates about baking and cake design, Katie Haseeb about illustrating and fine arts, Brooke Benoitabout jewellery design, Nur Hannah Wan about documentary-making and painting, and Firdaws Clotaire about ceramics and pottery-making.
This time, we’re speaking to Jannat Hussain about her journey to becoming an artist.
If you would like to interview a Muslim woman about her hobby, get in touch on email@example.com
Making art started off as a hobby very early in my childhood, so since the age of 6-7. And into my adult life, it developed into a practice as part of my career as an artist.
My parents very much nurtured my creativity. My dad is very talented in drawing, painting and photography, so I grew up seeing his work. I remember being in awe of his pencil drawings of family portraits and flowers. My mum always complimented my drawings and encouraged me to do more. It made me sad that I didn’t really see him draw or paint as my siblings and I got older. I think this also plays a part in me wanting to actively make art. I studied art at GCSE and for A-levels too. I had the same art teacher for both, and she brought a lot of discipline to how I approached art making which was the beginnings of me starting to take it all more seriously. She also introduced me to the potential of pursuing art academically and told me about the route I could take to study fine art at university.
My favourite thing about making art is always changing as it depends on what I am making and the ideas I’m exploring. So far is has been the getting lost in the process of making and the satisfaction that comes with knowing my idea has been executed, where what I have once envisioned is now tangible. I also love the introspection that comes with making art because often I am drawing inspiration from the memories and people in my life. This allows me to have gratitude for the experiences I have been able to share.
Lack of money and space to make art can sometimes be an obstacle. Although I have always found solutions around it, it also affects the pace and consistency of making art. Having a job and finding the time/energy for my projects can also be challenging.
I am currently working part-time as a creative facilitator for a mental health charity. Having a job which allows me to utilise my creativity has been helpful in keeping me motivated, as it is my job to encourage others too. I also stay motivated by reminding myself how unfulfilled I feel when I have not made art. The unfulfillment which comes from this affects other parts of my livelihood, so it is a form care to remind myself of this reality. Also deciding the I can’t rely on inspirational impulses to prompt me to make art because the practice will be fleeting and inconsistent. Instead, the motivation comes from the discipline of working towards my ideas and projects once every week. Even if it as simple as reading or jotting thoughts.
In 2018 and 2019 I worked on a series called ‘Saree Not Sorry’ which were in the mediums of painting, fabric printing, installation, and performance. This project was inspired by reflecting on the moment of when my mother drapes a saree on me and how the act made me want to unapologetically confess my secrets to my mother. It became a project which commented on the paradox of openness in private encounters. I also used Bangla text and pattern to extend these concepts. This series came to an end at the csm BA Fine Art final degree show. I am proud of this because the vulnerability I had in this project, making it, exhibiting it and sharing the concept with others allowed me to understand and connect with a lot of women (including my mother) in ways I would not have thought. It also helped me challenge myself as an artist in terms of scale and exposure.
I have struggled a lot with time management and insomnia, so I am too familiar with high-pressure last-minute work. I am still learning on how to stay on top of everything. I have learnt to organise my time by doing the easiest and least time-consuming things as soon as I can, or almost immediately. Just realising what’s a priority now in relation to how much time I have is something I am mindful of too. For instance, I don’t have to always be on top of everything, if not seeing my friends for a couple of weeks while I work on a deadline is something that needs to be done, then that’s okay too. But I will compensate and then make time for friends and family afterwards. I started walking and running to tire myself out before going to bed so that I can wake up early enough and have more time.
All my friends/family are an inspiration to me, even the friends who work in different fields. To list a just few: Jannatul, my best friend, I am inspired by her resilience. It reminds me to keep my eyes on my goals despite whatever challenges that momentarily discourage me. My friend Nowshin, the way she cares for people is inspiring. It encourages me to be attentive to the needs of my loved ones even when it seems like there isn’t time. I’m inspired by my cousin Suhana in the ways that she’s independent and able to create special moments aided by thorough research and planning. I have never met anyone like Suhana who is both equally sentimental and organised. The artistic insights and views on collective communities of my friends Jerome and Sam always makes me feel held and gives me a refreshing push towards my creative pursuits.
If you want to make art, you most likely have done it before. Make a lot of what you think are ‘mistakes’ because that can remove the intimidation of creating. And you don’t have to have mastered a skill or material before you start to use it in more imaginative ways.
I'm a simply striving to be better and improve in different areas of my life through more self awareness, experiences and learning more about the deen. You'll find me talking about community, connection, planting & growing, seeking the truth in an age of propaganda and misinformation. This year I want to document more to do with food heritage and history so watch this space or reach out. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast where I talk passionately about Islam, nature, motherhooding and back home. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at firstname.lastname@example.org IG: SelinaBakkar