Case Study - Mahin Hussain

Established Visual Art Bursary 

Visual artist Mahin Hussain applied for a VACMA as she had new time to re-focus on her creative practice and used the bursary to create a new body of experimental work. 

View more of Mahin's work via her website

Mahin graduated as a textile designer with a major in print design in 2002, then started a printed fashion accessories label following a one-year diploma in Fashion Accessories from the London College of Fashion.

Following the birth of her child four years ago Mahin had been focussed on her role as a mother, however as her child started full time nursery, she now had the opportunity to re-focus on her creative practice. 

Prior to applying to VACMA, Mahin had recently completed a digital textile design course at Central St Martins which had been the first creative thing she had done in three years after becoming a mother. She says,” This course got me started and made me think I could do something. The course had taken me back to a place of basics but I was now thinking, so what can I do next?”

At the same time Mahin had only recently moved to Aberdeen City, “It was lockdown, I had just moved to Aberdeen and didn’t know a soul. I was feeling a bit stuck, I wanted to do something but was alone in a new place.”

The situation had taken her to consider feelings of isolation and lots of different emotions around wanting to highlight contrasts of where she had grown up in Pakistan and where she now was:

“In my head I felt a heightened sense of wanting to explore my new surroundings, thinking about where I had grown up and highlighting and exploring the differences between the two.” 

Mahin received the funding to work on a practice led research period to explore the city of Aberdeen through the eyes of an outsider, called ‘Things I See’ and helped her create a new body of work using collages.

Mahin started looking at her new surroundings and used photography to record her findings. She created her artworks through cutting up her photos to make fun collages. “I was thinking about the local vernacular, quirky stuff, thinking about gable ends of buildings, reminding myself of the summer and bright days. The pieces were fun and looked at colour.”

The final outcome was a series of A4 format art pieces in a sketchbook.

She says, “It was the beginning of me looking at things that were right there. It was all new and I was discovering Aberdeen.”

Mahin is not sure she would be where she is now without the VACMA. She feels it was less about the monetary funding, but more about the catalyst to get her going with her creative practice.

“The stage that I was at it definitely gave me a confidence boost. The wheels had started to turn, and I was in a space that allowed me to look at things differently. It was exciting, suddenly I was feeling like I had a purpose, I had a project, it made me feel important, that I can do this!”

The VACMA funding gave Mahin the push to start and the reassurance she needed that she could do it. It has been the stepping stone from collage to a pattern based creative practice. A month after completing her project she opened an Etsy shop and has since participated in design markets including one at the prestigious V&A Dundee.

As well as the funding, Mahin received Mentor Support through the program. This was through online sessions every four to five weeks. Mahin explains that these sessions helped her to think outside box of what she could do with the funding. It also helped her with gaining local knowledge and she got a lot of encouragement from her mentor. She says, “My mentor Alison was the first person I got to know in Aberdeen, through the mentoring help I started to build a network of people I know. It really helped me in breaking into the Art scene here and making contacts. VACMA gave me support, a network, and confidence.”

“I couldn’t have done it without Alison. We’re still maintaining a relationship. Sharing my V&A success with someone who had seen my journey was lovely.”

“The stage that I was at it definitely gave me a confidence boost. The wheels had started to turn, and I was in a space that allowed me to look at things differently. It was exciting, it made me feel that I can do this!”

Did you find what you were looking for?

Status message

Please note, this form is anonymous, we can't reply directly to your feedback. If you would like to report an issue, make a complaint or suggestion, please Contact Us.