Fatima Faisal Afzaal is a contemporary British artist and teacher of Art with Pakistani heritage. She grew up in North London and from a young age enjoyed sketching and collecting sketchbooks to showcase her drawings and poetry. At the age of 11, she became a published poet and continues to write poetry, often lines of which are used to title her artworks. In 2013, Fatima was selected for The Royal Academy of Art’s AttRAct a program where she later interned. She developed her passion for art through an apprenticeship during a year abroad in Pakistan with a well-renowned artist-teacher of the National College of Art. During her gap year, Fatima also volunteered at SOS Village Orphanage where she taught students English and Art.
On returning to the United Kingdom, Fatima completed her A-levels and decided to complete a Bachelors in Fine Art and modules in Art History and Arabic. After graduating from the University of Leeds with a 2:1, Fatima pursued her aspiration to undertake a two-year Master’s Degree and obtained an MEd from The University of Cambridge. Her thesis explores her identity as an artist and the implications of this as a teaching practitioner of Art. Throughout her time at both The University of Leeds and the University of Cambridge, Fatima participated in both group and solo exhibitions.
“My Art Practice extends beyond the walls of my studio, it is present when I am observing my environment, and in the words of poetry I write and the things I notice as someone talks, it is in the emotions I feel and the reactions I sense.”
As a practicing artist, Fatima showcases the lifestyle of an artist to her students. She continues to work as an art practitioner- creating artworks inspired by her cultural and Islamic heritage as well as bespoke artworks for collectors and clients.
“What is unusual about me, is that I love trying new things, my Art practice isn’t bound to one theme or project, it’s continually developing depending on what interests me and what I choose to respond to.”
About my current Art Practice
I have a profound admiration for the beauty and wonder of creation, a love for nature,
simplicity, mysticism, Sufi ideology and poetry, ideas surrounding the temporal nature of the physical world. I want my artwork to evoke some kind of thought or emotion, even if it is as simple as making one ponder on the use of color or the
likeness to nature, or the abstract demonstration of thoughts.
Whenever people ask me what type of art Make, I find it difficult to pin my practice to one specific thing. My work is how I respond to things, the world around me, emotions, and thoughts. To me, my art practice is a way of thinking. Recently I have been finding pleasure in calligraphy and reflecting on words by creating artworks with distorted Arabic letters. I am also deeply inspired by nature and have a fascination with capturing light and the way light is reflected and seems to infinitely resonate in the sky. My practice seems to be my way of understanding the world. Sometimes I do this through drawing or exploring the texture of oil paint on canvas, and other times by simply just allowing myself to slow down and take in the beauty of creation that surrounds me and let myself be still and silenced in awe.
Many of my paintings of skies are attempts of capturing light as I have a fascination with the sky and its varying celestial beauty. I also create sketches that capture my everyday life but my main work focuses on the abstraction of landscapes/skies and Arabic calligraphy. I believe that creativity is not simply just in my art but in how I perceive the world and respond to it through my art and poetry. For me, being creative is not a momentary thing, it’s a way of living, a way of being.
University Art Practice
My Art Practice has massively evolved over the last few years. For a long time, I was interested in capturing words and meaning but I have become fascinated with the notion of distorting words and lettering, particularly in the Arabic script. My entire art practice is inspired by the Arab world from my textured abstract artworks that are reminiscent of the desert landscape of the Middle East to my calligraphy work which resonates with ancient Arab texts. My Art practice has been a journey to discovering myself. During my time at At the university, I began forming a family tree which led back to the ancient Iraqi ancestry that I had very little knowledge about it.
My work explores texture, color, and emotion. I try to encompass profound meaning in my artwork by pondering on poetic and Quranic phrases and the formation of letters. I have studied several classical Arabic calligraphic styles and formed many of my own, experimenting with form and structure. Throughout my time at university, I was greatly interested in Sufi ideology and reading ancient Arab texts. I studied several modules in Arabic and am continuing to learn the language which is greatly beneficial to my work.
Author & Artist,
Fatima Faisal Afzaal