Tag Archives: #collage

The Birth of an Amulet

5 Mar

The animals sacrificed at the Muslim celebration of Eid-ul-Azha (based on the  Abrahamic tradition) will serve as our ride to heaven, post death. Thus went the explanation my parents gave to rest my discomforts at the slaughter of animals over Eid Festivities.

But what about when we are alive? After all, death is a distant possibility.

When we are alive or probably during our lifetime, we will quite possibly see science, particularly the field of biotechnology help produce the hybrid animals I imagined as a child: Winged goats, camels, cows (the wings enabled them to fly me to heaven).

Bear with me from here on, as most of this is imagined and yet to happen. Though it is the future. These will deserve our admiration simply for existing. In essence what we are actually admiring is the accomplishments of science. Pigs with soft meat, goats with wings. Pretty much the same thing. The potential of science, biotechnology in particular, is boundless; be it crop yield or unique hybrid species that offer the potential of replacing religion as a solution to human woes, indicating an era where human intervention/invention trumps nature. My practice currently references the fact that ideas that were mere fantasy a few years back may well become a reality in the near future.

My latest piece for Bahishti Cultures – a body of work that came into being as a tongue-in-cheek response to my research on (the unhindered deployment of) biotechnology to use and abuse nature and animals to satiate human consumption and insecurities – elevates the realm of biotechnology to the level of religion, creating deities out of hybrid animals. This new piece titled The Making of An Amulet follows a reductive approach. Much like Islamic amulets reduce all Quranic/non-Quranic verses on protection into a square piece of paper stuffed and sewn into a leather case to be worn around the neck – I have also managed to make the perfect Amulet derived from the accomplishments of biotechnology, that will in time replace religion and demand subservience.

Step 1.
It starts with the chimera – a goat with wings to fly, and claws to grab, and hooves to walk.  A Commendable Creation.
Step 1

Step 2.

Simplify it a bit. remove the goat head, keep the (added) features i.e wings, claws, hooves and tail.

IMG_0140 copy.jpgStep 3.
Simplify Further. Keep the best feature. Wear it around your neck. It will be your saviour.

Step 4.
Recognition. Is it even an amulet in contemporary muslim practice if not bound in leather to be worn around the neck?

IMG_0143 copy.jpg

The amulets started off as trinkets/jewellery to be worn around the neck for purposes of faith and belief in Science the Saviour. However, for now they have found a new home, resting in cork, flying in the sky.

step 1- low res


A Timid Little Foray

25 Feb

Making Colliature: An Interdisciplinary process

As an artist, every time I am asked to label my art or identify the main media in my practice on a form, my first instinct is to write ‘interdisciplinary’ then the wheels in my brain kick in, I overthink and backspace my way to replace my first response with  ‘multi-disciplinary’.

Whats the difference? you ask. Very slight, but once you know it, it bores a whole in your understanding of your own practice. Multi-disciplinary art implies an artist uses a variety of media in their practice. This could range from painting, drawing, printmaking, performance to video, sound installations and whatever else you may like. And that is exactly how I work. Exploring one media, then another, then another and so on. This helps me focus, as each new media presents a new challenge. (Of course, concept also contributes to the medium chosen.)

Then there is Interdisciplinary Art. This is uber cool – a whole new level of creative. Because, this is where the artist takes two different media and marries them so that a chimera is born. Or a whole new genre, particular to the artists practice, is birthed. Simply put, using the principals of one media and applying them to the another to make something new, constitutes Interdisciplinary Art practice.

Now, I understand that Art exudes a cool, lack of rules stance on life, but despite that, Art does not equal anarchy. To elucidate, even tough art defies boundaries, definition and rules, it still manages to retain them. Conspicuously, it’s an oxymoron. Hence, I quote my A levels art teacher, ‘you have to know the rules, to break them’.
Suffice is to say that even though Multi-disciplinary, Interdisciplinary, Conceptual are just titles, they are quite significant in the world of creativity.

Completely by accident, Interdisciplinary is the turn my work has taken.  For a number of practical and nostalgic reasons, I returned to painting miniatures in 2014. After painting three consecutive pieces,  I took a creative break in the form of collage, taking the series forward with this relatively faster medium. It being my first ever collage, I loved the freedom and skill the medium demanded. It is possible to achieve a feel similar to collage digitally, but being the hands-on maker that I am, I preferred paper and exacto and  immersed myself in the process of collage-making, consequently fuelling a potential love affair.

The above explains how I started prancing between miniature painting and collage, however I am unable to pinpoint the moment I took on the principles and methodology of miniature painting and applied it to collage. As I type here, I am working on a piece – a collage – executed with the principles of miniature painting, employing paint application, burnishing, borders, hashia, gidwal, thinking 4D and so on and so forth.

As I move towards resolving this piece, I feel like I can finally claim myself within the genre of interdisciplinary art. However, no doubt, in the massive sphere of interdisciplinary , this is a small and timid step, but its a start, an exciting and fun start.
Here’s hoping it’s only a matter of time before this foray, this timid little step transforms into big foot.

Residency Ready

6 Feb

This poor blog has been lying dormant for way too long. I suppose its time to liven up this space. So here goes, an update on my practice, fresh from my newly acquired position as Artist in Residence at the Fitzrovia Community Centre, in Central London’s West End.

As I resume work after almost eight months, I am ecstatic and disoriented simultaneously. But despite that, a residency close to home is perfect for my current situation, where I can run back and forth between home (read baby) and the studio. Luckily, so far there has been no need for it, but it is a soothing idea, should the need arise. And the Centre is most accommodating. Not only is my studio time flexible, they have also offered starting a créche of sorts!! For an artist? Who has ever done that before? Consider it a challenge and please tell me if you have heard of such a phenomenon for a practicing artist.

Now, coming back to work and the disoriented part of my brain. I went in with all my materials and stuff before the first day just so I was settled in when time came to make work. However, materials makes NOT inspiration strike.

Sitting there, as per my plan, I just stared… mostly into space, and occasionally at some unfinished pieces I wanted to complete. These unfinished pieces, in the three weeks, since the open-ended residency has started, have become the core of my practice.

These are miniature paintings that I began back in 2008, and I had left them to die a slow painful death in a drawer back home in Pakistan. When I went back this time around, while searching for something (possibly) useless -must be useless because I cant remember what it is now – I stumbled upon these. I brought them back to London with me, just to fill space and time while materialising the many ideas I have had in the period that I have not been very productive, as an artist, that is. I am still a productive mother every day.

As I add a new emblem, mark, or idea to these old vasli’s I realise how pertinent they are to where I stand today. These pieces are a culmination of how my perspective has changed, experiences internalised, knowledge processed and visual language evolved. At some point, these pieces will help my practice come full circle.

And once I am there, its on to new visuals happily brewing in my head..Onwards and Upwards to complete this new body of miniature paintings and collage.


‘Bahishti Fauj, My miniature painting on the residency advertisement outside the Centre.