Born in 1975 in Pakistan, brought up in Manchester and now living in Blackburn, Lancashire, Halima’s varied, multi-cultural background is tangibly present in her work.
A natural creativity presented itself at an early age and was nurtured to fruition as Halima carved her way through an art-based education: an undergraduate degree in 1997 and an MA in 2002.
The culmination of this process is Halima’s precociously mature work. Fusing her Asian cultural roots with a fascination for African pattern work and a passion for architectural geometry, Halima’s work is intense yet playful, structured yet creative; substantial yet dynamic and invariably compelling in its originality.
I create a mood and feeling of dynamic tension in my work by playfully manipulating the planes and facets of the patterns against each other. The stresses that this creates help me to achieve the maximum impact within the overall design and also to push the boundaries of the material to its limits.
When creating a piece, the most exciting moment for me is when my flat designs become dramatically transformed when charted over a structure and then taken to another level by heavily carving into it. The hue of the clay body is crucial because I rarely use glazes, instead I rely on the clay body itself, either stoneware or earthenware, to provide colour in my work. I also rely on the piece itself to dramatise the tones and textures through the effects of light and shadow.
In my early work I was exploring the boundaries of my new found ‘modus operandi,’ which was infused with Islamic influences drawn from heavily carved architecture. This led me to look to other examples of intricately carved and constructed buildings from all around the world. In addition, I was inspired by the repetitive motifs and patterns derived from African surface design. Delving deeper into these architectural influences I discovered that I was intrigued by the internal space and the construction, which were articulated together on the external surface envelope.
Subsequently, my work was influenced by a new emphasis on the balance between masculine and feminine forms whilst working with the same elements of design and process. More recently I have become interested in cutting more aggressively in to the original form, sometimes to the point where the form begins to distort and becomes no longer recognisable as a geometric volume.
Combining strong geometric elements with recurrent patterns and architectural principles, Halima’s work utilises definite lines and dramatic angles in an attempt to manifest the universal language of number and create an unsettling sense of movement.
To achieve these effects she uses heavily grogged clay that allows her to work on a large scale and utilise relatively thick surfaces to carve to the desired depth. Halima concentrates on simple forms as the basis of her work in order to maximise the impact of the complex surface patterns in combination with heavily contrasting contours.
This approach provides her with the tools to create the compelling drama and playful dynamism that characterises her work.