For those of our readers who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself and your earlier work.
My name is Mariam Hussain Qureshi and I’m an artist from Lahore, Pakistan. I majored in weave technology from the Chelsea college of Art and Design but soon after I graduated I felt that this field of work just wasn’t for me and decided not to pursue it as a career option.
Honestly, I knew from the start given my personality that I could never see my self working under someone or in an office environment because I don’t believe in following rules or taking orders – it just wouldn’t bode well with me or the other party, if you know what I mean.
It took me a while to figure out what I truly wanted to do even though I had taken up Fine Arts both in my O and A-levels – Only after pursuing something different in university did I realise what I really wanted to do from the start. I guess sometimes we deny ourselves of our passions and desires because of the limitations we put on ourselves – because of the inner chaos linked to the fear of judgement and failure. However, with the help and support of my friends who I’m truly blessed to have in my life, I felt encouraged to pursue my inner passions and finally decided not to deny my self of something that comes naturally to me – my ability to create pieces that always tell a story and makes people laugh.
My first exhibition was inspired by my love for David bowie and his music. It compromised of abstract portraits of the man himself followed by I dream of Rarg; a collection of flamingos that were inspired by the short film animation called Rarg. Both exhibitions were installations and it was my way of introducing my self to the public as an artist; to help them understand how I work and tell my story.
2. Tell me about ‘the girls’ – how and why did you come up with the collection? Tell us a bit more about what the concept means to you?
I call them my Watercolour Lovelies. I honestly didn’t think I would continue with the girls beyond one collection but once I completed the first series I couldn’t focus on anything else but the lovelies, i had all of these ideas that I couldn’t possibly ignore and not continue with. When I started the lovelies I was watching a lot of the animations I grew up with and one of them happened to be The Romance of Betty Boop. I always loved that style of work and had always wanted to create my own Betty Boop. The girls have nothing in common with Betty other than a few of them maybe sharing her wit and charm. My girls are Big, Bold and Beautiful.
The most successful relationship I’ve ever had is the one with myself so the girls are a big part of who I am creatively – It probably sounds silly but I do love each and every lovely that I paint to bits! The girls always put a smile on my face. I know if I had to sum up my personality in a sentence, I’d say I’m the love child of Sylvia Plath and Kramer from Seinfeld and the girls help me find that balance in life.
The Watercolour Lovelies by Mariam Qureshi.
3. Tell me about your latest girls. What’s the theme?
My latest collection is titled The life styles of the Rich and Famous. I had previously written short stories about the girls for my collection Art of seduction + Watercolourlovelies and I was overwhelmed by the response I got not just about my art, but about the short biographies I provided for the girls. I’ve always been a story teller and had often thought about maybe one day working on an animation based around the silly eccentric characters I’ve made up in my head but now I get to do just that through my lovelies.
The new collection is comprised of 4 women who are inspired by my love for over the top dramedy shows from the 80s like Dynasty and Dallas. Whether you’re the greedy one or born into money, all the girls are mostly women we all love to hate but the concept goes beyond that – it’s about being yourself and never having to apologise for doing just that and I think all of my lovelies are strong women who aren’t trying to be feminist to prove a point, they’re those good old-fashioned ladies that can give you a knuckle sandwich or a hug when you need it most.
4. What are some of the reactions the girls have gotten from various people?
It’s been overwhelming because I wasn’t expecting the girls to become such a hit with the people. I was almost threatened by DHL for sending two of my nude fatties overseas and them wanting to cut a fatwa on me – luckily I got out of that messy situation resulting in two broken frames but an extremely kind hearted client who understood my ordeal of getting them across to him. I was lucky the paintings weren’t damaged! On the other hand I’ve had some clients who see themselves as one of my curvy girls because the idea behind them isn’t focused on them being plus sized but rather, it’s about being beautiful and confident about who they are and I think no matter what size you are you can spot yourself in one of the lovelies.
The general response has been super positive with a few people having some reservations about the nude ladies but that’s something personal and some people will be comfortable and some won’t. Living in Pakistan and having local staff I have had times when one of them has been shocked when seeing a stark naked lady oozing with fat and shamelessly smiling on a canvas while I’m praying on a janamaaz as he waits to give me my tea but over a period of time they have all gotten use to them and in fact occasionally look bored which is good! Only goes to show you that art has a funny way of changing people’s mindsets no matter where you come from or at least the people working in my house have.
The Watercolour Lovelies by Mariam Qureshi.
5. Any exhibition plans? How do people contact you to place an order?
I do plan on having an exhibition however there isnt enough body of work for me to have one since they get picked up so quickly. I’m not complaining but it’s hard to turn people down and at the same time I know its something I want to do in the future so hopefully in the year to come I’ll be able to do just that. I have an instagram account that I update regularly with information about new collections and the girls available so people can always contact me there or or email – all the Information is available its under the name mariamhqureshi.