Saimah Hussain, is a British Bangladeshi female born and based in South Wales, Cardiff. She has been creative for as long as she can remember, whether it was painting, drawing or arts and crafts
During May 2020, the first COVID-19 Lockdown, Saimah decided to spend her free time creating islamic art inspired paintings for friends and family as their Eid gifts. At this point she also created her page, Hussainartss, to showcase her creative journey and share her work. Since then it’s been an up hill battle, selling paintings globally to places such as Sweden, Norway, Germany, New York and more.
We talk to Saimah about her creative vision and how her work has developed and evolved over time.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Everywhere! Nature, landscapes, Islamic architecture, lathe history of Islam and so on. I would look at a hijabi sister and see the folds in her hijab as a shake of texture, I would look at the reflections in the ocean to use as my colour palette. I’m not only inspired by one thing, I like to think all of Allah swt creations inspire me as they are all unique and beautiful.
You have a very unique style, merging traditional Arabic calligraphy with contemporary visual arts. What art forms do you draw upon outside of the calligraphy world?
Besides calligraphy I’ve been very interested in abstract landscapes as well as architectural building such as Masjid Al-Nabawi and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. I’ll still find my my art style, I’m looking to painting half face portraits and other different and fun ideas that are out of my comfort zone and will be infusing calligraphy in them all.
How do you utilize color, shape and pattern in your paintings?
I usually chose a colour palette before creating a painting, as well as creating a sketch before hand so I know the shame and form of my work.
Your work pushes boundaries, turning Arabic letters into an abstract language that communicates with everyone, even those who don’t speak Arabic. How have you created a universal connection to the artform?
Arabic to me is not only a language, it’s art, the first form of Arabic calligraphy was Kufic, an abstract take on the stunning scriptures and it gave some many people the freedom of creating something so beautifully with words even more beautiful. This is where I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and jump into the abstract world.
How has your work shifted and evolved over time?
I began by creating simple art in my point of view, over the years my calligraphy skills have improved a lot, but also my creative vision. I want meaning behind my art, before I used to only see the meaning that the calligraphy brings, now I want so much more, I want to have meaning behind the calligraphy as well as the texture, the form, the colours, the structure, the shapes and patterns. I have a story to tell, and I want to narrate it through my art. This year is where will be doing a lot of experimenting and inshallah my first collection.
How has your creative vision and art influenced Arabic typography more widely?
I always get messages daily from wonderful people telling me how much they love my art and how it has inspired them. Not only to create but to start doing something they love that they never thought they could do. And I’ve been connecting with people all over, mostly India and the USA.
What has the audience reaction been to your work?
Alhamdulilah, since I began I feel all reactions have been positive, as my audience grows I see more and more different sides of my supporters/community. The strongest reaction for me was the time where I produced my first abstract painting in Masjid Al-Nabawi. I received so many messages of how I’ve captured the beauty of the masjid as well as being a reminder to so many people who’ve travelled to Madina and reminisced in their memories. That was the most heartwarming time in my journey and it inspired me to create more printings with immense feelings and morals behind it.
What are your thoughts on the inclusion of Islamic art in mainstream spaces in the UK?
I see more and more of islamic art, as well as Arabic calligraphy in the UK, and not only from Muslims. I think it’s beautiful how all different times of religions and cultures can appreciate beautiful art and scriptures but I still think there needs to be more hype, more appreciation and more education on the story behind it and culture.