When you see Fatima Dona’s work, you see beautifully detailed paintings & fantastically real tropical fish. We gasp & admire, but do we really understand how much work goes in to creating these tiny treasures?
It all started way before Fatima made her first miniature. She studied fine arts & physics at university, both incredibly important for her future (then unknown) career. Observation & curiosity are things that she now knows are vital skills to have as a miniaturist. Her fine arts training taught her techniques she would need to develop as her work got smaller & smaller & to understand the importance of proportions & space. The restoration work she did, meant she was sometimes using the finest brushes when repairing a work of art & also needing to find that patience that all miniaturists need.
Finally, a friend told her about the fascinating world of miniatures & although Fatima had always been intrigued by models of famous buildings, she had no idea that there was a world of collectors who were looking for perfect minute reproductions of everything around her. This was a challenge she couldn’t ignore. Being inspired by the natural world meant that there was an inexhaustible world of ideas to explore, but the trick for her was to visualise the finished piece in her mind & through lots of trial & error, she tried to create something that will captivate & connect. Then holding that finished piece in your hand, it is finally a tangible thing.
Miniatures are Fatima’s full time job & she believes it is not possible to improve some techniques & skills without putting in a huge amount of time & practice. An example of this was finding out how to work with the transparent resin used in her aquariums & fish bowls & not produce any air bubbles in the finished pieces. She has an ever-expanding combination of tools required to make these masterpieces in her studio, but she relies on the simple multifunctional toothpick to help with all sorts of jobs – gluing, holding, modelling & to correct tiny mistakes in her paintings.
Always looking for the next challenge, her most complex piece to date is the bronze seahorse aquarium table which is now complete (see image above).
Much of her work these days is commissions for paintings. She has begun to make her own frames to finish off her painting perfectly, trying to mimic the frame that the original painting is hung in.
When the pandemic hit, she was unsure if she could continue to make miniatures her full time job, but with commissions pouring in & taking part in our online showcases, has meant that she has continued to do the thing she loves.
When you understand what a huge amount of work goes into Fatima’s miniatures, you can only be excited to see what she will produce it the years to come.
Fatima Dona is one of many overseas artisans returning to London for the KDF Summer Show on May 13th & 14th.