For Laxmi Hussain, art is freedom – flowing lines that express fluidity and movement. Inspired by her experience of motherhood, she celebrates the body in all its shifting forms. From sketching across large sheets of paper to painting in magically vibrant hues of blue, Laxmi uses art to wordlessly communicate.
Art for Laxmi is an honest release, a way to work through difficult and tender emotions. In her soft and fluid style, she encourages us to stay connected to each other through our shared experiences. Artistic expression is a way to tell stories about who we are, or who we want to be.
We recently visited Laxmi in her studio for a moving conversation about motherhood, the body and why art can make you feel less alone.
“I started exploring the body in response to the negative association I had to my own. Women are pushed by the media and culture to scrutinise their bodies, and I want to normalise that our bodies change, adapt and grow. They take so many shapes over the course of our lives and we should embrace this.”
“Becoming an artist was definitely inspired by becoming a mother. I felt this lack of control over everything that my body was doing and I wanted to change that narrative. If I can be a parent – one of the hardest things I've ever had to do – and my body can go through these massive changes, why can't I be an artist? Through motherhood I have grown to be much more accepting and appreciative of my body as a vessel.”
“Art is part of who I am. I've been drawing since I was a little kid. It's how I communicate, how I talk. It's feeling pen on paper and painting. Even just filling in colour, there's something so calming about that.”
“Art is freedom. Sometimes I have no words for what I wish to say, and the only way I can do that is through my work. It’s where I get to be honest about how I feel, share things which are personal, tender, sometimes painful – it allows me to have a voice to connect to other people. I'm so lucky I get to do that.”
“Sometimes we interpret blue – which is what I use all the time – as a very harsh colour. But I think when you use it like I do, when it's amongst browns and very soft colours, it's so magical.”
“My process is a lot about how I feel. Sometimes it's about how my body moves creating the work, so that can be a lot of drawing. I like to work big, so often I'll take a few hours to sketch on large sheets of paper until my studio walls are full and I'm (hopefully) inspired by the forms they take. And then I paint the bits that I really love. Other times I can have an idea fixed in my mind for weeks. You have to allow for quite a bit of spontaneity, because until you put pen to paper, or brush to canvas, you really don't know how you might be inspired by the process of making.”
“My youngest is still very young so I bring him to work every day – it's very much governed by his schedule. My studio's quite tranquil. I like having time to ease into my process. Setting up things is a part of my ritual, then we'll have a good two, three hours in the afternoon painting away. Sometimes my kids join me. I like to leave the painting until the end because that's the calming bit and I enjoy that the most.”
“I used art when I was grieving really heavily when I lost my mum. Life is so unpredictable, and my art is a release. It stills my mind and helps me to process the things that happen to me. Without it, I think I'd be a very different person. When someone tells a really poignant story about what they're going through, it can make you feel a little less alone. It can be happy or sad things – but I think it’s really important for us to stay connected to one another.”
“I love using sketchbooks. I love that you can just have a pencil and an idea and you never miss a moment. I use notebooks like sketchbooks, they're a bit more of a mess – my appointments, my thoughts, my meetings. And also if I've got a drawing and I don't have a sketchbook, a notebook is perfect. Who says notebooks have to be for writing?”