Art, Activism And Personal Healing

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Posted September 8, 2020 from United Kingdom
NarrateMyStory
Limited To A Fish Bowl
Limited To A Fish Bowl: Limited To A Fish Bowl (1/6)

 

The word 'Art' covers a broader spectrum of various creative endeavours.  It ranges from Painting, Poetry and Music to Drama, Sewing and sculpting.  I think painting is a unique language you use to communicate with others. It expresses the idea or the imagination of a person to others without words. Art nourishes the soul providing gratification through all five senses.

I can smell the crayons and paper when I recall my childhood days. My mother had excelled in Arabic calligraphy. My father was an extremely creative person too. Growing up, my sisters and I developed a genuine passion for drawing and painting. 

As the years went by, my interests shifted. After school, I could not continue painting. Instead, I was drawn towards poetry and literature.

At the same time, I was actively involved and volunteering in Youth Empowerment and community development in a non-profit organisation. I was also into writing, translating teaching and training too. 

In 2014, After moving to the UK from Sri Lanka, I suddenly found myself uprooted from my native soil. It was December, and winter I ended up in a country where I had a minimal connection. The climate was cold most of the time, unlike in Sri Lanka. I loved England and new experiences. But after the initial honeymoon phase, I found myself disconnected.  I joined an art society, where we would sit and paint every Saturday, in the custard factory, Birmingham. 'Painting for pleasure' is what we called it.  We had plenty of painting supplies available free of charge. Our cheerful mentor Peter Tinkler encouraged us to push our boundaries and experiment with different techniques. That was my door to a new voyage.

"I don't think art is elite or mysterious. I don't think anybody can separate art from politics. The intention to separate art from politics is itself a very political intention." – Ai Weiwei (1957-), Chinese artist

I started to use art as a medium to articulate my thoughts, narrate my life in England detached from the community and the country I grew up, and to explore my identity. Art is very political, and it is used as an instrument to portray extreme forms of poverty, violence against women, injustice, dehumanising etc. I feel art need not necessarily be offering answers, but they should be questioning the world. In addition to documenting injustice and building community, art can help create new political paradigms, solutions, and priorities. Art can seed political alternatives.

In a nutshell, it is an attempt to tell alternative micro-narratives of my community against the dominant grand narrative.

"Art is a source of calm in a chaotic world. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners."

-Vincent Van Gogh

The Healing Power of Art is undeniable. 

When COVID-19 pandemic struck and the days dark and long with uncertainty and gloom, my refuge was painting. I painted tranquil lakes and scenic mountains, though, within myself, I was overwhelmed. Painting is my zen as it allows me to find power and peace within myself amidst distress and uneasiness.

Thus, I have embraced Art as my authentic voice, source of solace and armour of power.

I have shared here a few of my artwork, and you can see them in the gallery.    

This story was submitted in response to From Poetry to Paintings .

Comments 13

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Paulina Nayra
Sep 12
Sep 12

You are multi-talented Shameela. I like how you play with the different hues of blue that produces a serene background. Art is therapeutic. It is a productive way of grounding oneself to shift away from useless thoughts.
I pity the woman in the fishbowl. We are like her in one way or another. Just swimming around unable to get out of our constrictive cultures. As Dory says in Finding Nemo, “Keep moving”. Hugggs.

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Sep 13
Sep 13

Thank you very much, Paulina,
You are very true. Lot of us contain us into fishbowl when there is the abundant ocean surrounding us.
Love and Hugs

Isata Kabia
Sep 13
Sep 13

Shameela this is amazing. The depictions and the titles of the paintings are so poignant. I am so glad you found yourself through painting while you were lost in your new country. What beautiful work, thank you for sharing!

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Oct 02
Oct 02

Thank you very much Isata,
Appreciating art itself is an art and you have got it.

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 13
Sep 13

Hi Shameela,
What a gifted artist you are, and exploring many mediums. I loved looking through your gallery. You use colour so wonderfully, and have such talent.

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Oct 02
Oct 02

Humbled. Thank you very much for your beautiful words Tamarack.

Jill Langhus
Sep 14
Sep 14

Hello Dear Shameela,

How are you doing, Love? Wow! I do love your paintings so much. So dreamy. It reminds me of Maxfield Parrish, one of my favorite painters:-) You're so talented. Please keep painting and sharing!!

XX

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Oct 02
Oct 02

That is sweet of you Jill. Thank you, I will check Maxfield's paintings. Thank you very much for always supporting and being there for me.

Jill Langhus
Oct 03
Oct 03

You're very welcome, dear.

Yes, let me know what you think:-)

You bet!! I hope you're doing well. XX

Chi8629
Sep 20
Sep 20

Thank you for sharing.

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Oct 02
Oct 02

you are welcome.

ikirimat
Sep 25
Sep 25

wow, wow
I love your creativity, creating deep insight into the subject. Thank you for sharing the great art

Shameela Yoosuf Ali
Oct 02
Oct 02

Thanks a lot for your kind words Ikirimat