Nail and strings come in handy

ART and orthodontics seems to have a common factor for a dentist with a resolute affinity towards nail art.
Dr Hafsa Banu, a practising dentist in Muscat, has a flair with nails and strings.
She is perhaps the only artist-cum-dentist in the Sultanate and the entire Gulf region.
As esthetics improves smile and functionality of teeth, this young artist works hard with nails and strings to bring to life several art forms.
With scores of nails mounted onto a wooden frame, Dr Hafsa creates images and weaves them into various patterns.
Nail art is an old technique invented in the 1900s having its basics in geometry and mathematics. She now tries to experiment and innovate different patterns and with proper planning and insight is working on finer works of art.
COVID-19 and lockdown provided her time to pursue her passion vigorously.
The period saw her working on over 30 artworks as the art world opened to virtual exhibitions. She enthusiastically participated in virtual art forums held in UAE, Qatar, Canada, USA and UK. At present, she is glad to be part of Art for Art’s Sake3 virtual exhibition in London by artists where two of her artworks are being showcased.
“Art gives me a sense of peace and solace which all of us want more than ever. With exhibitions and events happening virtually people were able to spend more time and connect well,” she mentions.
For three years now, Dr Hafsa has been into this unique art of nail and strings incorporating different mediums.
Experimenting with different techniques namely acrylics, oils, water colour, fabric paints, sand painting, alcohol inks, resins and crafts, have given her the right exposure.

“For me this is more or less of a mixed media or contemporary art than being a craft as the techniques involved in this genre are intriguing and rare,” she points out.
“I have managed to push limits even if it involves working on rigid material too unique and not common to the art world, using 3D art using light and shadow,” explains Dr Hafsa.
It is a rare sight to see a dentist practising nail and string art with no formal training.
Thomas Bierdtz, head and chief of American Art Awards, has hailed her work as unique and beautiful, never seen by any doctors or dentists in recent times.
Explains Dr Hafsa: “Art has improved my discipline and time management skills. My passion involves patience and hard work but without proper time management and balancing this would not have been possible. Following work ethics and taking criticism positively are few other things which I have learnt,” she adds.
Several of her art works on personalities have been appreciated by many. She has done innumerable commissioned works for friends, art connoisseurs and distinguished personalities in the Sultanate.
However, her ‘masterpiece’ is a 3×3 portrait on late Baba Qaboos consisting of over 5,000 nails and 900 yards of strings which is now part of Diwan of Royal Court.

Her other commissioned works was for HH Hatim bin Turki al Said and his sister HH Raunak bin Turki al Said at the first Omani twins gathering in 2019 and a portrait for former minister Azza bint Sulaiman al Ismailia.
She loves colours (black being her favourite) and experiments with them in acrylic creating an ideal backdrop for her works. Different coloured threads such as nylon, polyester, silk, wool, cotton and even thin metal wires have been incorporated in her artwork.
Use of embellishments such as high brilliance crystals, gold foils and even resins also create a different look to each work.
As one fully devoted to her art, she confesses her passion is not for profit. “It is my insight and ideas which I put into every piece and each one is special to me. The art collectors and buyers love my unique and authentic work and buy it accordingly or get them commissioned,” she mentions.
Dr Hafsa believes strongly that nail art uses different ideas either minimalistic or abstract to create something different.
However, she does not believe nail art can dilute any purity of contemporary art but in fact creates another forte or visualisation of contemporary art. She also has plans to reach out to more people in her genre of art.
Dr Hafsa has a close inclination towards culture, heritage and Arabic calligraphy. “I love insightful quotes and deeper meaning to life and my portraits if not customised are based on those who had a deeper insight in life.”
The dentist from Mangalore, India, receives equal support from Dr Ejaz Salim Khan, her husband also an orthodontist, along with children Eishaan and Haniya who cooperate in her work.


Liju Cherian