Siddiqa Juma is a critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning contemporary Islamic artist, graphic designer and publisher. Best known for her pieces ‘Diversity’ and the ground-breaking ‘Make Your Mark’, which have each captured the hearts and minds of global audiences, Siddiqa believes the purpose of her art is to unite people - regardless of creed or colour. Siddiqa has exhibited globally, and her works are owned by Royal families, eminent politicians, and hang in some of the most recognisable establishments in the UK and abroad.
We talk to Siddiqa about her journey as an artist, finding inspiration and her perspective on the future of Islamic art.
How did you develop an interest in Islamic art? Did you always want to be an artist?
I have painted for as long as I can remember. I recall when I was growing up in Tanzania, I did a painting that was featured in a local newspaper. And then moving into my teens and early 20s, I used to paint for myself – as a form of relaxation. Even though I studied graphic design at college, I would often do portraits of my family members. My interest in Islamic art became a focus for my art that mirrored my own journey into my faith after I had my children. It was not necessarily something that I consciously set out to do initially, but it really has acted a form of my own meditation and a form of personal worship which I now incorporate into my everyday life.
How did you train to become an artist?
As mentioned, I trained as a graphic designer and worked for magazines in typography is the 80s. I didn’t train professionally as an artist in the traditional sense of the word. It has just always been something that I did and my techniques I developed over the many years that I have painted both as a hobby and then later as professional artist.
Where do you find inspiration to create your works?
My faith and the constant exploration and re-exploration of what my faith means to me are the primary inspiration of work. But I find inspiration in everything really. Whether it is the cracks in a paving stone to the natural formation of plants to even a chopping board (!), inspiration can be found anywhere, so long as you keep an open mind and are able to look at things not only through the eyes of literalism.
How do you create your color compositions?
Again, my colour compositions evolve quite organically and naturally during my creative process (unless I am undertaking private commissions where a client specifically asks me to incorporate a particular colour). Sometimes, I may have an idea of the general colour scheme but I try not to be forced into any direction as there is also a huge textural element to my pieces which also need to be taken into consideration. I try to just go with the flow of whatever I am feeling in that particular moment. I never feel as present, or as in the moment, as when I am painting. For me it really is a spiritual experience.
Which artists inspire you?
There are so many incredible artists that I have loved over the years – Mondrian, O’Keefe, Van Gogh. But these days, nothing excites me as much as seeing this new wave of Islamic artists from all across the globe who really are using their talent and their platform as a declaration of what Islam means to them. And when people use art in such a meaningful manner, that is what I find more exciting that anything.
Of all your works to date, which has been the most challenging to create?
Each painting brings its own challenges, whether it’s a technical challenge where I am trying to create a certain effect that I have never done before, or if I am doing something that requires serious precision like my Qiblah piece that I did in 2018. The initial sketch took longer than most paintings I have done before. Although we could never truly portray majesty of Divine magnificence, I feel I must try my best to do it justice.
Can you share your creative process?
There is no scientific or prescriptive process. I paint from the heart, I paint whenever I feel inspired and I simply go with that sensation and see where the journey takes me.
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
There are 2 pieces of advice: there is no such thing as a mistake. When I first started painting professionally, this was a piece of advice given to me by another artist. Every brush stroke, every colour is part of the story of that painting. Just go with it. And secondly, practice, practice, practice. This applies to anything that you may wish to do seriously in life.
What do you think the future of Islamic art looks like and how do you think we can continue to keep the tradition alive?
I could not be more positive about our future of Islamic art and that is why I co-founded IslamicArtPrints.com because there is such talent out there but there has never been a platform to represent the excellence in modern Islamic art. Not only do I think we can keep the Islamic art tradition alive for our generation, but I am confident that with the level of talent out there, the future will be in safe hands for many generations to come.
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