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I was a moderately quiet child growing up in Keighley, Yorkshire. I say moderately only because I grew up in a family full of girls and feathers often ruffled, especially in cases of critical importance, namely clothes and records! My mother was an excellent seamstress and I loved watching her painstakingly measure, cut, pin and sew pieces of fabric which evolved into the most exquisite dresses. I would often sit under her sewing table watching her foot press down on the pedal of her sewing machine and listen attentively to her stories. My mum, originally from Pakistan, often told stories to keep us quite when she needed to work. Her storytelling carried me to a benign world full of hope and love but often with a foreboding and creeping sadness that lay untold.
I knew from an early age I had the ability to draw. But it was the ability to remember and learn by heart details that, when combined, became the future benchmark of the work I now produce. The stories told and retold as a child helped, in part, to create a palpable and lucid world deciphered only through the use of drawing.
At school I was very lucky to be taught by great art teachers. In fact, throughout my schooling my teachers have been very important. Their grounding, nurturing and kind devotion helped provide the push and inspiration to further my potential. I studied for a foundation course in art and design followed by a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design at Leeds Metropolitan University, specialising in illustration. After my three years I left the UK to ‘backpack’ around Latin America and Africa.
Travelling played a pivotal role in my creative work. Certainly giving me the freedom to develop my own ideas and in my own time. I returned to the basic art of drawing using only pen and paper; a process in which the virtues of simplicity unravel the sentiments. This has produced, in my opinion, my most honest and frank sketches to date. Even now when I look back at my sketch books they instantly take me back to my travels.
On returning to the UK I worked as a studio designer, serving a high profile company. As an artist, it was a certainly a complete contrast from the heady days of travelling and challenging at the best of times. To reign in on this fast-moving and often high-paced working atmosphere, I ditched the studio and took on freelance work for the next five years before starting a family and embarking on a career as a full time artist.
I still live in Keighley, Yorkshire and I am married with two young boys.
My ideas and inspirations are ever flowing. I can take a little or a lot from anything I deem to be influential in my work. From the spoken word, travel diaries, people watching and sometimes plain old contemplation. I have always had that ability to remember and ‘mentally’ jot down anything that interests me. Though I do carry a journal bursting at the seams with magazine and newspaper cut outs. Transferring this in my work can be easy but also at times, challenging. If I try to guide too much information into my characters they become complex and therefore difficult even for me to understand. Through painting my characters, I aim to invest into a personality that imbues the emotions of which everyone is privileged to.
I draw a lot of inspiration from the music I listen to or the books I read. I revel in the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez - in particular, A Hundred Years of Solitude. I have read and re-read the book. Each time I read it I am transported into a world full of spellbinding magic and imaginary so beguiling that it is hard not to be influenced by it. My mum’s stories have had the same effect. Her storytelling always left an ineffaceable impression of enchantment and magic, but more often than not subdued with sadness too. It seems fitting that my inspiration comes from those early days of listening to my mum.