Interview with fine artist Ikran Abdille

Araweelo Abroad had the opportunity to speak with Ikran Abdille, a gifted fine artist on the rise. Ikran resides in Northampton and she primarily works with gifs, drawing, videos, and found imagery. She holds a B.A. in fine art and has successfully show her work in both group and solo exhibitions. Araweelo Abroad talked to Ikran about studying fine art, some of her favorite artists, and what advice she has for other Somali artists.


SA: What inspires you to do art?

Ikran: I'm inspired to create art because I feel like the world is such a beautiful place that not creating would be a shame. I've seen too many beautiful things and things that may seem ordinary to others look differently in my eyes. As I'm a primarily multimedia based artist, I mostly love moving image and the greatest lens for me has been my eyes and my camera. The everyday world inspires me and also my family.

SA: Does your art have a specific focus on anything?

Ikran: My work focuses on home and the importance of what home means. Home being a person or people rather than an actual destination. My work plays with imagery and layers, creating things within things. The images I use normally are found online unless I state that I photographed them. My video works are very playful and usually capture my family doing very casual things but captured in a very abstract way.

SA: What was it like studying a fine art degree at university?  Were your parents supportive?

Ikran: It was great studying fine art because I really got to find myself and find out what I enjoy doing and what I shouldn't be scared to do. My parents have always supported my work even if the don’t agree with the arts as a career choice. They have always said to do what I enjoy because you can only come up top in something you genuinely love doing. It would be great if Somali parents didn't fear that the arts is actually something worth pursuing but I do believe some are slowly opening up to it.

SA: What difference are you hoping your art makes?

Ikran: I just hope that when someone looks at my work they are intrigued and want to know more or just enjoy looking at it. Sometimes there aren't always words as to why we like something but we just do, and with my work I want people to know that it's okay to feel that way. With my video work it's more about missing something, I feel like when a Somali audience watches my work it reminds them of home. You hear a dialogue you understand and see faces that feel familiar , it's a longing for a comforting place. It's a longing for home.


SA: Name a few of your favourite artists or art works?

: My favourite artist at the moment is TonyGum. She's so wonderful to listen to and watch. I remember listening to one of her talks and her approach to being a artist in learning is so fascinating. I also currently love the work of Evie Cahir, an illustrator who works primarily with drawing and painting. Her layered works are something very refreshing because she plays with what she props on paper in terms of details also the use of colour being quite minimal and light is great.

SA: How do you work? What is your process like when making art?

Ikran: My process isn't really a process. I just make work when I need to or when I feel like I want to. I usually work at any time of the day, my work is usually done on my phone in terms of collages. I use basic apps to create layered works and my video work is shot on my Canon handheld camera. I usually shoot with my video camera if I see something that really captures my eye. It's mostly colour or light or hand gestures.

SA: Lastly, how would you encourage other Somalis to get involved with art?

Ikran: As a Somali artist the best thing I can suggest to other Somali artists is to go for it. Keep your day job but make art. You don't have to be broke to be an artist that statement about artists is the worst. Artists live daily lives and still make art. The Somali community isn't very encouraging about art but once they see young people bringing things to life they'll start to become more open and the great thing about Somali creatives is that they've created many platforms in terms of YouTube and Instagram and design and modelling. I really believe as Somali creatives we have to continue to push past this traditional way that Somali elders think and break conventions. I believe we will get there but young creatives need to hang in there and keep going. If Allah wills it, it will work out.

More of Ikran’s work can be found here.

Sagal Abdulle is an Editor of Araweelo Abroad.