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Hafsah Jamil: Talk with our team

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

In this blog post I will talk about my practice, what my wok is about, my processes and who I am as an artist. All work is subjective to the viewer but I will provide an insight to what it means to me personally.

In this shoot I explored the relationship between my mind and body by using acrylic paint.
Impression, Digital photograph, Series of 11, 2020

Image description: a portrait photograph of the artist wearing a black sleeveless top, she is covered in paint of shades of blue, green and yellow, rubbed in across her arms, shoulders and face.

I’m a London based artist studying at Birmingham City University, in my third year doing a BA in Fine Art. My practice is based around feminism, exploring ways of portraying the female body and challenging how overly sexualised images and how the representation of women effects the way we see react and treat others. I've tried explore ways of removing male gaze by photographing the body through a feminine and more realistic lens. I had initially wanted to remove the sexualisation of the female body entirely but it has proven to be difficult due to societies upbringing. I've also looked at how these issues effect our mental health and relationships; with family, friends and ourselves.

Hafsah Jamil, Impressions, video, 2:23 min, 2020

Video description: the video depicts the artist sitting in front of a white backdrop. Gradually she takes paint and wipes it across her body, mixing vivid colours. Once completely coated in paint she begins to wipe it away using cloth as the paint cracks and dries.

Hafsah Jamil, Skin, Digital photograph, 2020

Image description: a set of four black and white paintings depicting close up shots of the body, the creases and folds of skin, the back of the neck and the palm of the hand.

In the photographs above I tried to take close up photographs of the body and reduced them to black and white to focus on the details and textures. This doesn't take away sexual connotations but some of the photographs aren't gendered so the viewer isn't immediately trying to sexualise it. The problem with trying to take photographs of the body that aren't sexualised is that skin alone represents the naked body and creates voyeuristic fantasies in our heads. The viewer starts to think about rest of naked body and immediately identifies the female body as a sexual object of desire.

I also look at ways of celebrating womanhood and celebrating women and non binary people who face the challenges woman do by creating the anti burn book. I used this to spread positivity and help women to focus on what they love about themselves as it is too easy to forget. I found, when asking people what they love about themselves, that the norm of society is to put yourself down, never except a compliment and be so critical of yourself. It seems as though its almost a social taboo to be confident and love yourself even if you see the good and beauty in others, you never look at yourself in the same way. I think it is important to show how women are sexualised but also put down for being a sexual being at the same time. Women have to act a certain way to fit societies guidelines of performing femininity. Men also have societal expectations that they have to challenge as everyone is expected to act and live a certain way. This harms our own mental health as we put pressure on ourselves to be upheld in societies eyes in a particular way. Often its hard to break free of that. I want to continue questioning these serotypes and raising awareness of issues.

Body Print (2021), Acrylic of cartridge paper, 42cm x 54cm

Image description: a body print on paper displaying an impression of the female body using deep tones of blue and orange paint.

I am currently using various materials to find different ways of challenging this idea and the issues raised. I have been limited to what materials I can use while in lookdown to make physical work. I prefer physical editing and working as everything has been so digitised this past year due to cover-19. I think it is Important to make physical work as we can get caught up in perfecting this digitally as we can control the outcome and make it 'perfect'. When you physically edit a work you don’t know what the final outcome will be. The idea of being perfect, for me as a woman, is almost something internal as women need to be 'perfect' and look a certain way. I think the physicality, unreliability and inconsistency of it is beautiful and almost represents how we can never plan everything to go or look the way you want. The minute you let go and take a step back from trying to be 'perfect' all the time it helps you see things more clearly and you can focus better. Physicality makes my work different and reflects on how all people are different but it is no less 'perfect'. Not knowing how things will end up is good as its exciting and I still achieve a successful final outcome.

Back (2021), Digital Photograph, Series of 5

Image description: a digitally edited photograph of the back of a naked woman. The body is coated in thick layered of paint in a vivid blue, purple and lime green.

My work can be found on my Instagram page, @haffleart and my website. I also have an etsy shop set up, where I sell prints of paintings as well as resin jewellery that I make. Some of my work is available on tiktok as well @haffle. I use tiktok to show processes and final outcomes that are aesthetically pleasing.

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