Lino-print has never been more beautiful


By Farhan Muhammad


Haseebah is a traditionalist artist that succeeds in illustrating the beauty that can be found from older printing techniques in conjuncture to masterfully highlighting metaphysical Islamic art. Her use of Intaglio works in symbiosis of her message to depict a sense of scale of the Syrian Refugee crisis. With hours ticking before her first solo exhibition, we managed to find time to sit down and speak to her about her creative process.  

Courtesy of @haseebah_illustrations

Your first solo exhibition is tomorrow, how do you feel to have your work framed and formalised to the public on a face to face scale? 

I’ve gained experience from exhibiting my work through my degree programme as well as being a part of other collectives. However, my own show, with all my work is going to be surreal for me. Just last year, before I graduated, an opportunity like this didn’t seem possible due to the mind frame that I had. There’s an obvious pressure for people to enjoy and understand your work. The most heart-breaking thing to happen is if people couldn’t connect.

Do you think the change of scenery will alter the way you approach and envision your work? 

With a new focus on exhibiting art, primacy to be continuously learning and progressing in different techniques to make my work presentable has been imperative. Transitioning out of an illustrating degree, which in nature is a more digital platform, has meant that exhibitions are a new sort of territory for me. Nevertheless, with each exhibition I am learning as I go. 

In terms of Islamic art. How do you hope to build on the foundations of past geometric craftsmen to help usher it into a Eurocentric art scene? 

Research into geometric art in recent times have been mostly centred around the geometric patterns as opposed to its religious significance. I want to be able to convey a sense of depth of knowledge that more traditional craftsmen possessed and the maths that is involved within these creations. My aim is to avoid any sense of pleasing the crowd instead just highlighting my personal interest in the topic. 

Is your use of Intaglio techniques the result of a pragmatic approach to illustrating the events of the Syrian Refugee crisis or was the method driven by something else? Has there been any criticism for depicting the issue in this fashion? 

I’ve had criticism from people saying that my art should be void of politics. However, having my own platform I am in control and I choose to use this to articulate current events. I honestly don’t care. Facing countless barriers as a Muslim woman has ensured my resilience to criticism enabling myself to navigate against the negativity. 

The iconic image of a wave of refugees that was plastered across the media was my reference due to its notoriety. However, with Dry Point it was experimentation, after seeing the first product of it. I realised this is something I can capitalise from.  

Courtesy of @haseebah_illustrations

What do these traditional techniques mean to you? 

After being drowned in digital art at University, going back to methods that I had learnt from when I was younger, such as printmaking, manoeuvred me into a niche that I thrived in. It was a technique that I enjoyed and had an affinity for. It’s the process, carvings and preparations that I could never get bored of. With Dry Point, the various stages of scratching, inking and finally printing help keep the final product a mystery until the very end. 

With Geometric Art, being in a degree programme that was mainly Caucasian, doing work that was close to my culture brought a sense of security in doing something that I was naturally close to. 

What are any other techniques you would look forward to using? 

Wood Carving! I’m carving a lot with my Lino print work, so trying that out would be a perfect fit for me. As well as etching with acid on metals for engraving seems like a natural step forward. If I get a membership with Birmingham Print Makers, it will allow me to obtain more resources to be able to do these projects.

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