Q + A
SA: What inspires you to do art?
Amani: To be honest, everything and everyone around me.
SA: What are your thoughts on the current state of art/artists in the Somali community?
Amani: It’s progressing. I’ve seen a slight growth within the diaspora, both in practice and interest.
SA: Tell us about 4nine2?
Amani + Sagal: 4nine2 began as an organic transition really, art that manifested itself based on the definition of who we were individually; a combination of our common interest in highlighting the positives in our culture and our unique dynamic as Africans and citizens of the world. It’s a blend of truth and satire.
SA: Does your art have a specific focus on anything?
Amani: Firstly, women. They are after all, the end all and be all of our world (laughs). I just genuinely enjoy depicting women. Secondly, East Africa; there is so much richness in our history and so many stories that are begging to be told.
SA: What challenges did you face when creating 4nine2?
Sagal: There were a few expected challenges in the beginning like figuring out the name, contacting the right suppliers etc. It took us about a year to get the pieces together and let’s just say it’s been a learning process for the both us.
SA: It has been known that Somalis tend to disregard the arts for academia; why do you think that is?
Amani: I think, there is a better sense of job security in academia. With the creative field there’s a lot more risks to be taken and given that the older generation in our community have taken risks of their own to provide us with this ‘security’, it is not so easy for some of them to take the arts in high regard.
SA: What difference are you hoping 4nine2 makes in our community?
Sagal: Well, our mission statement is to ‘inspire change, provoke dialogue and invoke growth under the guise of art’. So I guess that’s it.
SA: Lastly, how would you encourage other Somali’s to get involved with art?
Amani: Perhaps pick it up as a hobby? I am a self-taught artist myself; drawing became like second nature to me but at the end of the day it’s a skill and I truly believe that practice makes perfect. The world of art is as vast as eternity (laughs) and there’s so much to learn and love. So just start somewhere.
4nine2 is a creative business based in London, founded by Amani M who is the Creative Director and Sagal Sheikh who is the Administrative Director.
Sagal Abdulle is an Editor of Araweelo Abroad.