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Talented IMU FiS Lecturer Takes on Henna Drawing

23 Mar 2018

Shirley Evelynna Jayaselan  an IMU Foundation in Science lecturer by day and a self-taught henna artist by dawn, learned henna art through observations, practice, and through YouTube videos. She states that her interest was sparked at the age of 17 when she drew random images that she has seen anywhere. Soon, she began to expand her drawing skills by drawing on her friends’ books, cards, papers and she continued improving her drawing skills until she entered college. Moving on she narrated about the first opportunity she received to draw henna during her college days. “It was when we had to do a charity event and during the event the henna artist that was hired couldn’t cope with the overwhelming crowd therefore my friend suggested for me to help out the henna artist,” smiled Shirley, as she remembers that first experience of drawing henna alongside the professional henna artist for the charity event. That was the instant where she fell in love with the henna art and took this artwork professionally for 14 years. She expanded her knowledge in 2015 by attending an advanced course in Kuala Lumpur. In 2016, she joined a Deepavali carnival at KL Sentral and out of 12 participants she emerged champion for the henna drawing competition.

Shirley defines henna artwork as a therapeutic experience, where she discovers her own comfort zone. “The moment I pick up a cone and start drawing, my mind shuts down to the external noises and stresses and gives me a sense of calmness,” Shirley says. She added that getting proper natural henna cones in Malaysia, was very challenging when she started this journey. Wherever she goes she could find the instant chemical cone, and she used that for years thinking its ‘normal’. She even tried making her own natural henna paste with the guidance of internet however it all failed. Early 2017, she finally learnt the art of making all natural henna paste (with no chemicals).

When asked about her funniest encounter, she narrated that it was when a bride who wanted the groom’s and her portrait as a design on her palm. Apparently this is a trending henna art in India, and she wanted to do that for her wedding. The bride was very pleased with Shirley’s drawing of the portraits in the end. Shirley being a person who seeks to constantly improve her skills follows most of the popular henna artists in Instagram, and look out for their tips and tricks religiously. “I make it a point to practice and try new designs every now and then.”

2017 was a great year for her as she attended a henna artists gathering, and also a workshop. She enjoyed attending these workshops because she gets to meet all the local henna enthusiasts which provides a good networking ground. She was delighted that she was one of the speakers in a henna conference here in Malaysia organised by the very talented Malaysian henna artist, Nakreze Mehndi in November. Shirley spoke on “Henna and Health” at the conference.

As a final advice for the younger generation of henna artists, Shirley insists that passion is the driving factor. She added that a passion will take effort to learn and to keep practicing. The main objective is not to compete with people, but with oneself as the learning curve never stops.

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