Growing up in a large family compound in Thrissur, Kerala, young Laji was intrigued by the designs on the tiles her father would make, and set about creating her own artistry, first with tiles, and later with soap carvings and sculptures. The young girl would grow and venture far afield but would never forget what inspired her first artistic ‘dabblings’.
Now based in Nizwa, Laji, a successful dentist, along with her husband, Sajid Valson, an ENT specialist, and their three children, Laji has continued to compile an extremely diverse artistic portfolio. “Initially I concentrated on the traditional, more religious art, in murals, as we have some amazing colours and materials to work with. A lot of reds and golds, and shining, sparkling, metallic colours that are ‘fun’ to work with, reflecting our faith, and the eternity of our culture and traditions.” These can be seen in the artwork that surrounds Laji and her family in their home.
“I like to read, and be inspired by stories, and Sajid, who is an avid reader, and I are currently trying to encourage our children, Anarudh and Aditi, to understand how books can inspire imagination in a way that phones and tablets probably never will,” she explained. The two youngsters were sitting with Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasies and Louisa May Alcott romantic classics in their hands at the time, so they already have significant diversity for their literary journey.
Working mostly with acrylics, Laji has more recently ventured into oils, and is enjoying the sensation of the different textures, though while she is enthusiastic, only sees her art as transcendental, allowing her to see beyond the challenges of being a working professional with teenagers. “I love my kids, my husband, and my work, but we do need balance in our lives, don’t we?” She asked, “And I’m lucky to have a family that supports me and encourages my hobbies.”
“Art, at least for me, is all a leisure activity should be,” Laji went on, “It’s therapeutic and relaxing, and when I finish something, it’s incredibly rewarding. I have also started doing landscapes, and the Wadis around us here are amazing, while Misfat Al Abriyeen is just an amazing place, as the different angles of the Sun, the time of day, the seasons, and the growth of the crops and trees all create different light and sights for me, new textures, colours and shapes, every time we go there.”
Having ‘toyed’ with ‘cake art,’ she still does birthday and special event cakes for friends and colleagues, and the caricatures are very amusing, and as a regular contestant in cooking competitions, Laji has had her fair share of success too. Continuing the food theme, ‘Lajis Food Art’, is her You Tube Food Channel offering. “I like cooking, or trying, all foods including the European classics, but South Indian Food is definitely more popular on the Internet.” Sajid laughed as he said, “Maybe some of it is a bit too spicy for some folk, but the New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels the other week were absolutely amazing!”
Art holds few fears for the artist. “I am even enthusiastic about cosmetic dentistry,” she laughed, “as it involves designing, interpreting natural shapes and even textures, and that requires, I think, an artist’s hand and eye too.” Laji Sajid, wife, mother, professional, and artist, was first inspired by her home in India, and is now inspired by her Omani home, talented and enthusiastic, and yet another engaged expatriate contributor, to the rich tapestry that is the ‘Jewel of the Gulf’, the Sultanate of Oman.