MY STORY

I am originally from Mauritius and I landed in Dubai in 2011, all alone, to explore opportunities. Later, I built my family here after meeting husband Sefik, who is Bosnian. I’m a business development manager for a hospitality compnay, but art and painting are my passion. I enjoy it so I find the time to paint between a full-time job and being a mum to my two sons – it’s just a matter of how you organise your time and categorise your priorities for the day. Fridays are a blessing and give me a chance for some me-time; I start my day with a proper breakfast, [get] some cleaning done and then I paint.

ART I WON’T PART WITH

Art is part and parcel of my life and I paint almost every day. The last thing I splurged on were canvases, paint and material for my mixed media creations. My art supplies are what I spend the most on! The result is I have many art pieces that have touched me so much that I will never sell them. It is for my private collection.

SWEET SCENTS

The scent of vanilla always relaxes me, be it perfume, soap, even vanilla cake. I feel at peace and inspired [when I’m surrounded by that fragrance].

PAINTING A DIFFERENCE

I firmly believe that art is capable of changing people’s lives. It is much more than an exquisite rectangle or square shape, which is why I founded the artist platform Zee Arts Community in 2012 and refer to myself as an artist activist. We’ve organized over 75 artistic community [initiatives] that range from working with special needs children, to [visiting] workers’ accommodations during Ramadan and encouraging them to paint with us. It’s also an opportunity to empower local artists, bring them out of their houses and get them to form a community, interact with each other and share experiences.

BY THE BOOK

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey is a book that really boosted my motivation and passion. I was inspired through his message of empowerment on how to attain one’s goals.

TAKE THE CAKE

When I am hungry I get nervous – I can’t focus or concentrate, my mind is in my stomach! I love food and like to try all the different varieties of food [available here in Dubai] – biryani, Chinese and Italian food, and cakes. Cakes are my favourite food to snack on – too sugary, I know, but I love vanilla cake with frosting, and carrot cake.

ALL KINDS OF TRAVEL

I have a long bucket list of destinations: Spain, Egypt, Morocco, Singapore, Malaysia, Switzerland, and Prague top that list. I want to travel around the world and meet artists from different countries. A time machine would be [pointless] to me because I enjoy every little journey I have had even if it wasn’t perfect. I’m looking forward to what is to come.

THE SONS OF MY UNIVERSE

My sons Zeeshaan (14) and six-month-old Yusuf are my treasures. I never leave my house without my wallet, my mobile and photos of my boys.

INSPIRATIONS

One of the artists I really look up to is Vincent Van Gogh. It’s not just his art; his life inspires me as well. I am also inspired by people around me and my immediate environment. My latest exhibition ‘My Blue World’ at Four Points by Sheraton is inspired by mosques and how they represent a mysterious compilation of elements from the past, present, and future. Throughout the process of creating the paintings, I reflected upon the divine truth one feels when standing inside a mosque – whether they’re magnificent or modest, contemporary or ancient, they all contain the vibrations of prayers whispered generation after generation. I hope the collection provokes the same emotions in every visitor.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR

Blue is the shade that colours all of my childhood memories. Coming from an island country like Mauritius [meant] I always spent my time between the blue of the ocean and the blue of the sky. I have painted since I was a kid and I remember my parents allowed me to paint on the walls of our house, but it was in 2001, when I won the Oscar de la Jeunesse award in artistic pursuit by the government of Mauritius that I woke up [to my passion for art] and started to be more serious about it.

HAPPINESS IS…

I have been awarded many times – the latest being the Artist of the Year 2016 at Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Foundation – but for me, the proudest moment is every time I complete a painting. I feel a sense of happiness when I look at [the finished product].

FIND MY FEET

I don’t use digital media at all to create any of my art but I’m a traditional artist with a twist – I paint with my hands and feet. I first painted with my feet in 2013 during an International Woman’s Day celebration – it was a public art show where we were creating a painting live with our feet, and people stayed the entire hour to watch it take shape. Painting with your feet is a very different [sensory] experience because you have direct contact with the paint which and feel the energy; it’s like dancing on the canvas.

SOCIAL (MEDIA) BEING

I’m so glad for the invention of social media. It’s a significant tool that helps me connect with the world and artists everywhere. Plus [visual] platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are great for art.

My Blue World runs at Z Gallery, Four Points by Sheraton, Shaikh Zayed Road, until September 30.