At work with: Laxmi Hussain

Back in early February, we visited artist Laxmi Hussain in her North London studio to talk career journeys, the colour blue and her new project, 'She's in the Daisies'.
At work with, Laxmi Hussain
Laxmi Hussain Studio

Laxmi Hussain is an artist focussing on the female form to create her artworks. The changing shapes of women’s bodies throughout life and motherhood are a constant form of inspiration for Laxmi. Her pieces range from detailed line drawings with a sense of fluidity to paintings in inks, most notably her signature use of ultramarine blue.

We visited Laxmi in her bright studio in North London back in early February to discuss her career path, family, motherhood, grief and her upcoming project ‘She’s in the Daisies’.

Artist, Laxmi Hussain

Motherhood encouraged you to explore art – what lead to this career change?

Both my parents came to England to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families. My mother left the Philippines at 18, having never left the country before to travel halfway across the world to come to England. Her bravery at such a young age is my biggest inspiration. I studied architecture as a way to fulfil both the creative in me and to work professionally but it didn’t fulfil my desire as an artist at heart. Once my children were born, drawing alongside them reignited my passion for art. My intention was to bring the habit of making time for my art back into my life. It grew in a way that I could never have imagined and I’m so grateful that within the last year it has grown for me to be able to call it my job – a dream come true!

Laxmi Hussain Female Form

What inspired you to draw only the female form?

This was born out of my wanting to change the association I had with my own body – through teenage-hood to becoming a young adult and then into motherhood, my body changed in so many ways. We’re influenced so much by the media and our body image can often become a negative fixation and I got fed up of feeling like this. I needed it to change – I started to draw images of my own body and bodies I wanted to see; variation, the people around me, people who inspired me, normalising that our bodies are all different. It isn’t normal for us to be forced to see one type of body as the ideal by which we govern our idea of the body – that starts with seeing and being seen.

Laxmi Hussain Artist

What are you most looking forward to doing once restrictions are lifted in the summer?

Giving a friend a hug. I’m a people person – my friends mean so much to me and touch is something I really, really miss. Connecting in that way is unique and special. I’m very lucky we have three children and my dad around, so hugs are not in short supply, but I really miss seeing my friends.

Laxmi Hussain work

How easy is it to practice sustainability with your work?

It’s relatively easy. Minimalism exists in both my work and in its process, but that has also taught me to do more with what I have. When it comes to materials I often work in series, so I use the materials which I am in love with at that moment and usually until I’ve used them all up. A lot of my papers are either purchased for their sustainability or papers which I’ve reclaimed and repurposed for my work. I used to walk past an artist’s house on my way to and from my old job and one day he’d left a huge stash of old but lovely heavyweight paper outside with a note saying ‘please take me’ – I still have some of these papers with my drawings on them!

Artist Laxmi Hussain

Do you have favourite materials to create work with?

Blue is a very memorable colour for me. My mother died in 2018, our family are incredibly close and her absence is a huge hole in our world – my obsession with blue seemed to peak when she was undergoing treatment for leukaemia. I took on my first studio as an escape in between hospital journeys and began to explore the colour blue a lot at that time. It wasn’t until after she died that I was looking through old photographs and I began to realise that my mother was always in blue. My earliest memory – our first trip to the Philippines, we took a day trip to a beautiful resort called Hundred Islands, which is just that, hundreds of islands scattered in blue seas, reefs and white sands. In the photo she’s wearing a blue denim shirt and blue jeans with the most beautiful smile – the smile she always wore and how everyone remembers her.

Laxmi Hussain 'She's in the Daisies'

Can you tell us about your upcoming project?

I’ve just worked on a collection of drawings and paintings which will launch on 10th March with Partnership Editions. My collection is called ‘She’s in the Daisies’. There are many references to my own body and its journey throughout my third pregnancy, but the florals add a new element – my late mother. Daisies were her favourite flower and they represent her presence in me and through me. It has been incredibly emotional pouring all these feelings into this collection, but I feel proud that I’ve managed to represent the thoughts of grief, love and life all being in the same place at the same time. Experiencing loss of this magnitude, I often felt so isolated – death is so taboo. I wanted to share that all these elements make me who I am and hopefully we can start to be more open about these things as a society.

Are you currently reading anything?

I’m reading a handful of books at the moment, I just started reading Black, Listed by Jeffrey Boakye – the book explores being black in Britain today, discussing race, culture and identity as a black person through Jeffrey’s own lived experience. Jeffrey is an old friend of mine and I have the added benefit of hearing his voice in my head as I read through its pages. It’s a very important book and I really recommend it. I’m also reading Grief Works by Julia Samuels – at times it can be a hard read, but this book really resonated with me in many ways in my journey through grief. Lastly, I’m making my way through Make Ink, by Jason Logan – which is about making your own inks from foraged materials – I’ve followed Jason on instagram (@torontoinkcompany) for years.

Laxmi Hussain Art work

How do you relax – does your work play a part?

My work is definitely my way of relaxing, painting soothes me – it’s how I find my peace. When I’m not working on a collection or project my art extends to include my children, we will explore different materials together, plan creative projects and just enjoy our time together.

Grove candle by Evermore

What is your favourite Evermore scent and why?

Grove – it’s heavenly. It’s earthy, but also warming in a welcoming way. It reminds me of opening the window in my kitchen on a sunny spring afternoon – we have a big oak tree in our garden and when I open the window in the afternoons at this time of year I can smell the earthiness of outside; the oak, the lingering smell of a fire in the distance and the cool winter air still lingering. Lighting my candle at the same time just seems to set this feeling alive.

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– Images by Liz Seabrook