We are so happy to present this edition of ‘In The Studio With’, where we get to chat to the latest addition to the Partnership Editions family of artists, Laxmi Hussain. Her debut collection ‘She’s In The Daisies’ launched last week at a very special time when the entire world is celebrating women and the varying forms of motherhood. Here, we get to learn more about the emotion and sentiment behind this very personal collection as well as Laxmi’s background and training.
How did you become an artist, what's your training and background?
I’ve always drawn, for as long as I can remember I would be drawing. I drew on the countertop of my parents' corner shop after school as young as 5. My mum kept so many of my drawings from my childhood, to be honest, I didn't realise how much she kept until fairly recently. It’s always been a part of my life.
I studied architecture for my degree, I’m a first-generation Londoner so my parents both came to the UK for better opportunities. Whilst my siblings and I weren’t necessarily pushed into professional careers, having worked so hard to support our family, my parents want us to pursue professional careers and architecture seemed the right course to fulfill both my artistic aspirations and use math, which I really excelled in. The first year of my degree was eye-opening, we studied drawing and fluid art techniques which helped me to really explore drawing in all aspects, I loved it.
After I graduated, I’d had enough, I didn’t want to pursue further education to qualify as an architect and I fell into an office job whilst I tried to figure out what it was I wanted to do. When I had my eldest I started to draw again, watching him draw really detailed images as early as 2 fascinated me, and through nurturing his love for drawing, it reignited my love for it. When I had my daughter, nearly 3 years later I was drawing nearly daily, Instagram was relatively young then and I just started sharing my work as well as my life on the app. I shared my explorations and the more I shared the more I wanted to draw.
Are there certain artists, subjects, or movements that inspire your work in particular?
This collection is very personal, over the last few years I think that is the way my work has just evolved naturally. My mother died in May 2018, she was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2017, so in such a short space of time, our family was completely devastated. We’re all so close and my mother was the center of that. I used my work to calm my grief, to just find some peace.
Whilst I’ve explored the body for some time, I always explored the body to make myself feel better about the negative associations I’ve had with it. This collection however is specifically connecting the relationship I’ve explored with my body over the last 18 months, having just had my third child in June 2020. This pregnancy was unique in that I am in a place where I feel very comfortable with my body, I wanted to enjoy its change over the 9 months of my pregnancy and even past that, as it changed postpartum.
I was not, however, prepared for a pregnancy without my mum. This body of work, therefore, explores the changing vessel of a mother before, during, and after pregnancy. It also shares the connection from mother to daughter (myself) through the floral elements, in particular the daisies which were my mum’s favourite flowers. Like the feeling of dancing floral shadows upon the skin on warm sunny days, my mother is never far from my thoughts, her love is always felt. It has been really hard to have a baby without her, especially in a pandemic, where those feelings of loss are amplified so much more and so I hope this collection somehow brings comfort to those that may also be remembering their mothers, we’re approaching a mother’s day where so many across the world will have lost those close to them in the same way, lost mothers.
What does your process look like? Why do you choose to work in the materials that you work with?
It’s no secret I have an obsession with the colour blue, my obsession seemed to peak when my mum died. In the days before my mum died we never left her side, we spoke to her, told stories, shared memories, read old letters, looked through old photos. I think my mum loved blue a lot because in so many of those photos there is blue. One photo is particularly striking, she is wearing a full blue denim outfit, this photo is my earliest memory, I was 5 and we were on our first holiday in her home, the Philippines, and she has the most beautiful smile.
Whilst I didn’t make this connection in my early exploration of the colour, it’s very important to me now. The process I enjoy the most is drawing, I particularly love to draw in continuous lines where I usually complete my drawings in one or sometimes two or three continuous lines. I love the fast pace of this type of drawing and that it doesn't take any planning, it’s just about what you see and where you can take your line. I often practice this technique before I start a body of work either in pen, ink, or pastel. I use these initial drawings to influence the shapes of my paintings. I often paint in either ink or acrylic, whilst a lot of my work at the moment explores a single colour, I do often explore many tones of the same blue in ink.
What emotions or responses do you hope to create for the viewer with your work?
My work aims to normalise all types of bodies. It's very problematic to grow up feeling like you’ll never have the perfect body, there is no perfect body. I spent so much of my younger years obsessing over why my body looked the way it did, why it didn’t look like bodies in the media. I finally had enough of thinking that way and I want us all to feel the same. We’re all so different and that makes us unique, we spend so much time agonising over what is wrong with us, I want to show others how we should be able to honour our bodies, appreciate the journeys they go through, and honestly, just give ourselves a break from thinking we’re not perfect.
Can you tell us more about your practice and your debut collection?
Working in the colour blue has been a process of love as well as an obsession, I personally love the conversation blue has with the world around it, in particular with natural tones. My obsession with this colour I feel comes from my mother, losing her peaked my obsession. I feel it was a way to connect my feelings with something real, pouring my love for her into my work. Working on my art allows me to process a lot of my grief, it grounds me. This collection of work is dedicated to her, the mother she was, expressing her presence in every thought of my everyday. Becoming a mother again, there is an added level to my grief, raising a child without her - I know so many expressions, emotions and things we would have shared because I had her for my first two children. I hope this collection not only inspires more appreciation of the varying forms of motherhood, but a moment to reflect on our loved ones who may not be here, to remember so much of them lives on and loves in us.