One of the most beautiful aspects of visual art is it can exist in so many different forms; each having its own artists, history and various styles. In the name of art we decided to take some time this week to sit down and chat with Radelaide Henna artist, Alisha Skipper. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Henna, it’s the intricate, temporary art form where a special paste is used to create designs over a person’s body. Originating from Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East where it has been practised for thousands of years, it’s popularity in Western culture has grown massively over the last decade. Without any further ado, here’s our interview with the wonderful Alisha Skipper.
Who are you and what is you do exactly?
I’m Alisha Skipper, a Henna artist. I grew up in Adelaide but spent a lot of my younger years in India where I went to boarding school and that’s where I first truly learned Henna.
How long have you been interested in Henna for now?
Because it’s part of my culture, I’ve grown up with it my entire life. I started practising when I was about 8-10 years old I think, but just on myself, friends and family. It wasn’t until recently that I had an interest from the community which inspired me to start a business.
What is it that attracted you to Henna specifically?
I think until recently, people in Australia didn’t really know what Henna was, but it’s such an ancient art form and I thought it would be really interesting to integrate it into our culture. [This is] because I honestly believe allowing cultures to intertwine can be a really beautiful thing!
The paste used for Henna itself is obviously no regular ink... what exactly do you use for it?
I actually make the Henna paste myself. You can go out and buy it but you shouldn’t do that - some of those are filled with chemicals that react badly to certain people’s skin. I source Henna from India, well, the powder that is. This part comes from a plant that is dried and then turned into a powder. After I get the powder I mix it with oils, sugar and more. I have my own recipe, which is 100% natural. All the ingredients after they’ve been combined eventually make the paste, which usually stains the skin for around two weeks. The time frame is nice because it's not permanent like a tattoo so people can constantly change and try new designs.
Do you have any favourite artists around the world who inspire your own Henna pieces?
Yes! There are actually a few really big henna artists in the world, Hennabydivya from Canada, and Anjali.henna from Los Angeles, are both people that inspire my work. I’m always inspired by other people’s work, I’m constantly growing (both as a person and as an artist).
Being from Adelaide, do you have any favourite hangouts for your free time?
If I want to go somewhere with friends, Sunny’s is one of my favourite spots for the pizza and vibe. I also love format on Hindley Street as they are always displaying local artists' work. In warmer months though I'm always around the beach, nothing beats being out in the sunshine.
Having travelled about the world a bit, what do you find to be special about Adelaide?
I love that Adelaide is such a community, you know everyone here loves each other. Especially as an up and coming artist I feel like people are very supportive, they’re willing to help each other and always looking out for one another. Also, it’s such a beautiful place to live, I could list everything that’s great about Adelaide but we’d be here for a while!
If you want to see Alisha in action, keep your eyes open for an event announcement this month, or head on over to her Instagram @festivehenna.
If you’re interested in her work she’s now taking bookings. Hit her up via email at email@example.com.