A Fine Art student from Leeds has taken her love of Mehndi to a whole new level, evolving its traditional use from the back of a hand to the canvas of a wall in an upcoming art exhibition.
Twenty-two-year-old Aisha Holt prefers to opt away from the traditional mixed media of paints and pastels when creating her latest art masterpiece.
Aisha’s canvases – featuring jaw-dropping designs that are metres across with gleaming gold leaf moons and scaly markings– look like the intricate calligraphy of ink, and not the smudge-prone medium of henna.
Aisha realised she was ‘onto something’ after she started drawing with henna cones.
“One day I was drawing with pencil and then I thought, ‘why not incorporate henna into my work?’ Then I realised it is part of me, it is part of my culture,” Aisha explained.
Aisha’s art is mostly to do with culture and mythical stories, which were the result of three years of experimentation on her BA course at Leeds College of Art and Design.
“My work has different meanings,” she said. “It started when I looked at mythical archetypes like Medusa and Manasa.
“Manasa is a serpent goddess and Medusa is also a snake goddess in Greek mythology. I then started looking at snakeskin and how to represent these characteristics. Somehow it formed together.
“It’s good to try different things out, that’s the way you find out what kind of artist you are.”
Her biggest piece took ‘two weeks to complete’ and the smaller piece was ‘a week and a half’. The main piece plays around with the thinness of the lines and how to use henna in different ways.
“I used all kinds of henna; homemade, black, natural and even artificial to get the different effects,” she explained.
“For my final piece, I went through four boxes of henna. I even considered asking my mum to bring some back from Pakistan as it’s a bit cheaper out there.”
After her final exhibition on Friday, Aisha wants to take her work down south to London.
“I’m thinking of doing a free-range exhibition there,” she added. “I’m also considering taking a break from studies but I will continue to refine my work at home. Eventually, I’d like to do a Masters in Fine Art.”