Illuminated Nature, Shadiya Mohammed





South Indian artist Shadiya Mohammed was born and is based in Kerala. Since childhood, she has been inspired by the natural landscapes which led to a passion for Islamic art. She believes she always had a calling towards Islamic illumination and these illuminated works strike a perfect balance between Nature’s beauty and the Artist’s work. The material mainly used in the illumination is gold. Vegetal and floral motifs inspire the designs in Islamic Art, but their spirit resides on a higher plane of Divine qualities. Nature is a reflection of these qualities and is regarded as a proof of the Creator’s power.


We talk to Shadiya about her connection to Islamic art, learning and practicing traditional techniques and her future aspirations.



Your works are inspired by the miniature painting traditions of India and Iran. What made you develop an interest in these artistic traditions?


Since childhood I had an interest in patterns and I always used to admire the surface design at the local mosques. Every day I would spend some timevery obligatory prayer looking at the frontispieces of the quran. I started drawing geometric patterns in 2016 to help me control my emotions and anxiety, this made me to connect with Islamic art more. That’s when I got to know about biomorphic patterns and its forms, and the rest is history. Right now I specialize in the art of illumination, also known as Tezhip.



When did you develop an interest in Islamic art? Did you always want to be an artist?


I used to draw and paint since my childhood and I was very creative but never in my dreams I thought that I would become a full time artist. I found my passion for Islamic art, and that brought me to where I am today. I’m so grateful and happy with the journey that i got to experience so far, Alhamdullilah.



How did you train to become an artist specializing in these traditional artforms?


Once I was sure what I wanted to specialize in, I enrolled at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London to learn about traditional art - and those two years of my degree journey taught me a lot and brought me closer and connected to Islamic art. I learnt a lot about the culture, tradition and history of Islamic art which helped me to grow as an artist.



Has your heritage influenced your creative practice?


I wouldn’t deny it- I am from an orthodox Muslim family in South India- the belief system definitely has a role to play in my practice but other than that, nature inspired me to create.


Where do you find inspiration to create your works?


I find inspiration in nature. When I see unique colour palettes in nature; I try to document it on my phone and use that inspiration to create a palette for my works. Being born and brought up in Kerala’ also known as God’s own Country- the environment and greenery around me has inspired me mostly.



Your works are incredibly detailed, how long does it take for you to create a piece?


Yes, It’s all about the details. The works usually take about 5-6 months to complete and it also sometimes depends on the size and delicacy of the work.


You also make your own pigments, why is this important to you?


This is very important to me. Before I didn’t even think about the materials that I use for my work but now that I’ve learned about the traditional way of creating, I always try to create everything from scratch as it helps in a way to connect more with the whole process. I believe that the more you connect with your work, the more the work embraces the real you and its important and time consuming step of the whole process of creation.



What are your aspirations as an artist, what do you hope to achieve?


The main goal for me now is to get my Ijaza in Tezhip in the next 4-5 years, Insha’Allah and I hope to create more meaningful and relatable artworks in the near future, Insha’Allah.




What has been the highlight of your career so far?


The highlight definitely has to be the one where I got to meet the Prince of Wales in the UK and interact and explain with him about my work and practices,



What do you think the future of Islamic art looks like and how do you think we can continue to keep the tradition alive?


Being in India, I see a major change how Islamic art is considered now and how it was 2 years back, more and more people are now aware of this artform and also practicing and learning more about it - which in turn has brought up a big change in the Islamic fine art world and I don't think now there’s any need to keep the tradition alive as it is already practicing by many people around the world.


For more information check out https://www.shadiyamohammed.com/

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