By Gareth Stevens

Khadija Khan considers her newly found passion for painting a gift from her husband. Tragically, Bradford Gross died suddenly in 2017. Known for his boundless energy, humour and love of life, Brad was a much-loved local musician, mentor as well as an inspirational science educator.

Previously untrained, Khadija found herself drawn to painting and says it was “a way for my grief to flow out and to just be, when being was too hard”.

38/100 Golden Moon  
“The moon is the reflection of your heart and moonlight is the twinkle of your love.”
Debasish Mridha

Like others during the pandemic, she has found living by herself and not being able to see loved ones the most heartbreaking challenge of lockdown. Drawn to the idea of a personally imposed challenge, in February of this year Khadija decided that she would create 100 paintings, one a day, over the ensuing 100 days. Each painting would be 20cm square and mounted on a panel all ready to hang up and would be affordable with a £100 price tag.

The paintings themself have a meditative quality. Often created without brushes – she prefers to apply layers of paint with kitchen utensils, drumsticks and other implements which were never designed to come in contact with paint – she builds layer on layer, before sanding down or peeling back layers to produce tactile surfaces and textures. Inspired by nature, light and sea, rather than being representations of landscape, they are sensations of landscape. Well chosen complementary quotes accompany each painting when they are posted on social media. These really help us to appreciate what Khadija is trying to achieve in her work without being didactic.

61/100 Japanese Wisdom 
“Experience the beauties of nature, and in doing so learn about yourself.” 
Kachou Fuugetsu

At the time of writing Khadija is on day 79 of her challenge and every one of her works has sold thus far – usually on the day it was completed. She tells me that this project is not particularly about profit. To date she has donated £1,600 to Eggtooth, which is a not-for-profit organization that aims to tackle challenges presented to our local community of Hastings and Rother through a wide range of one-to-one and group activities, projects and events, with a creative and therapeutic approach. Her late husband worked for Eggtooth and so she is only too pleased to continue to honour his commitment to them. Khadija has also spent nearly £1,500 on local businesses to support her project. Whether it be framers, packers or photographers, she is keen to distribute resources and work around the borough so that others can be supported by her initiative. 

As well as this, Khadija has signed up for the Artists Support Pledge. That means that every time the sales of her paintings reach £1,000, she pledges to buy £200 of work from other artists.

In the short-term future, and after she has completed her 100-day challenge, she intends to start working on a larger scale and limit her output to maybe one painting per week.

It was inspiring to meet Khadija and to hear of her self-discipline and fortitude during times of unprecedented hardship for her. Of her recent love of Art and her stoic attitude to her practice, she says “Find something that gives you joy and refuse to fear it.”

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