The first piece of art I can remember making was of a local lady near my childhood home in Dar-es-Salaam, carrying a basket of fruit on her head. It was printed in a local paper, and at the tender age of eight years old, it felt like my path in life was set.
Coming to the UK when I was 13, the hope of my parents was that I would pick a dependable path in pharmacy, despite a clear ineptitude when it came to science. My decision to head for arts school for a diploma in Graphic Design hardly represented the stability that an immigrant family might want for their child, and for a long time they were proved right. Jobs in magazine publishing and advertising had to give way when I had children, followed by long periods of unemployment, struggling to get by on freelance work.
I tried my hand at animation and book publishing, hoping to create fun and high quality entertainment for Muslim children like my own, who were too often left to labour through dry and lifeless options. It was as an attempt to find relief from the pressure of trying to get these ventures off the ground that I rediscovered my first love - painting.
I have throughout my life been seeking some form of expression for my faith. It is in painting however where I have found a way to express my devotion, and it is to art that I owe a debt of gratitude for awakening and maturing my faith in a way that I didn't know was possible.
It is not just the content of my work that reveals my beliefs: the processes by which my work is created has as much a story to tell. My pieces are characterised by successive layers of vivid colour and intricate repetitive patterns and calligraphy, which draw to mind the ancient illuminated Qur’ans now proudly housed in museums around the world. The vibrancy of my paintings is an aesthetic choice that speaks to the joy that my faith gives me. When I painstakingly cover a canvas with God’s name, it is my personal tasbih, or incantation. Creating these pieces is an act of devotion in itself, a stand-in for meditation, in which each occurrence of a word is like a small offering to God.
2019 Muslim News Alhambra Award for Excellence in the Arts
2018 Al-Najm Award for services to Islamic Arts & Publishing // London, United Kingdom
2018 Leonardo Da Vinci Universal Artist Award // Florence, Italy
2017 Global Art Award, Best Painting - Diversity // Dubai, UAE
2017 Muslim Lifestyle Show Award for Best Islamic Artist // London, United Kingdom
2015 People's Art Prize - Make Your Mark // London, United Kingdom