Born in Pakistan, I moved to Denmark at the age of 8 where I was raised by a single mother in a family of four siblings. My Pakistani roots and culture influenced my way of life, identity and sense of belonging in Copenhagen. Being in London for 4 years initially - whilst I studied English, French (BA) and Human Rights (MA) - and then again for 9 years working in the city, provided the space I needed to fully explore who I was, and who I wanted to be. Over the years, yoga and meditation became the key means through which I cultivated a sense of peace and stability in my everyday life.
Growing up, I found myself fluctuating, both mentally and physically, between two cultures - the colourful exuberance of South Asia on the one hand and the stark minimalism of Scandinavia on the other - never completely belonging to one or the other. And yet, since I have always loved moving my body - be it through walking, running or dancing - it was only natural that yoga provided an introspective discipline that I could apply to my creative practice, through which I cultivated a sense of inner peace.
I am a nervous wreck. I slowly began to realise, through practising yoga and meditation and feeling peaceful and blissed out how anxious I really was in every day life.
I grew up in tidy straight-lined fresh aired Copenhagen, but was born (and spent!) the first 8 years of my life in the hustle-bustle of Pakistan. I am not quite sure what my parents’ divorce and my family’s subsequent move to Denmark meant for 8 year-old me back then. I’m not sure I realized that I would never see my father again. Nor did I have a sense of the new ambience and stillness that I was moving into culturally. The sense of straddling two worlds all at once no doubt had an impact on my coping skills.
A few years after returning from the UK after my studies (BA in English and French, MA in Human Rights), I remember missing the vibrancy and multiculturalism of London. I thus went back- this time for a stretch of 9 years- and began a career in Marketing and Project Management.
As I grew professionally, the rapid pace of corporate life kept me from understanding if the environment I was in corresponded to my values as a human being on a deeper level. I was successful and thriving in my career. Yet something was always amiss. I wasn’t quite home.
During those years in London, I began my yoga practice. I began investing in my personal space and sense of home. It brings me great pleasure to mutter about the house, tidying up, making things neat and beautiful, reading, writing, dancing, cooking, doing nothing. It was also during this time that my creative practice really began to flourish. My home became my safe space and personal studio, one to which only I had access to and where I would leave my artwork out on the floor overnight - knowing that when I returned the next morning, everything would be already in place for me to resume my practice.
These are some of the most beautiful and treasured moments of my life. Waking up. Walking up to the kitchen/living room space, having a coffee and silently conversing with the artwork I was creating at that moment.
I began to see that how and what I painted was an expression of how I felt. This is the crux of my artwork: it is an expression of myself, a window into my soul, feelings and thoughts.
If what’s on the inside is connected to what’s on the outside - or vice versa - then we are constantly processing and digesting our environments and the impressions we receive. In this manner, my paintings are a reflection of my time in London, and a reflection of the mental and emotional states that accompanied my journey.
I have always loved paper. I love reading paper, I love touching paper, and there is nothing more beautiful to me than a blank canvas.