Hafsat, standing beside her 2018 painting (acrylic on canvas, 36″x 36″) titled “Bloom”
Hafsat spoke with Vanguard’s Arts Editor, OSA MBONU during her first solo exhibition recently at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Libreville Street, Wuse II, Abuja
What’s your background?
I am 27 years old. I just graduated from school with a degree in Business Management at Coventry University, UK. After Coventry University I moved to San Francisco where I studied Interior Architecture and Design. I moved from San Francisco about 2 years ago. I came home and started working with my mum as an interior designer. My mum is a furniture maker. This was where I became more exposed to creativity.
I have always loved painting, drawing, and dyeing. But you know how it is in Nigeria – people will always tell you that art is not really the way to go and all that. After doing architecture for some time the passion for art refused to die. So I picked up art as a hobby. I was working during the day and painting at night daily. The more I painted the more it became more visible to me that that was what I was meant to do. I started painting about 2 years ago. I first picked up the painting brush in early 2016. Eventually I just decided to pursue art as a career.
What were your parents’ reactions?
It wasn’t easy at the beginning. But I think they were a bit softer on me because they knew that this passion in me has always been there. They also saw how hard I was working. They saw how passionate I was. They also said, look, art is just your hubby, you should find something else to do.
At some point I began doing textile – I was dyeing fabrics, T-Shirts, designing jewelry and things like that. I think they saw the drive and felt they had to support what I was doing.
Are you saying you did not have any formal training as an artist?
Yes. I am an untrained artist. I only studied architecture. But my parents have always exposed us to creativity. My mother also taught me how to knit when I was younger. So I have always been creative with my hands. Like I said, it was all due to passion. I always feel good every time I painted. Though untrained, I’d like to say I am a God-taught artist. There is no other way I can explain where my inspirations and these images come from. I just know it is a gift from God.
Did you have private lessons in arts as a child?
No. when I was young, at the primary schools I went to (Kaduna International School) we were very exposed to creativity. We had art classes, craft classes, and after-school activities where they made us to stay back after school hours to learn how to paint and draw. That was all I got. After I decided that this is what I wanted to do, I started buying books for myself in order to educate myself.
You have put up a solo exhibition so soon, which takes even trained artists between 5 and 10 years to achieve. What gives you the confidence that your works will be acceptable in the industry?
Sir, you have said it all – it is the confidence. I am someone who is very passionate (about what I am doing). I am a hard worker. I’ve told myself that if I have to do this, I have to work extra hard, and I’ve really worked hard in the past two years… my paintings are like the story of my life. I also write poetry for them. Some of my paintings are titled “The Warrior”, “The Healer” “The Nurturer”, “The Observer”, “The Free Spirit”, “The Intuitive”, “The Intellect”, “The Regal One”, “The Wild Heart”, etc.