Tara Adhikari is a Freelance henna artist working in Scotland. Tara’s Nepalese roots encouraged and inspired her to learn the patient art of henna design. She now shares her talents with others by hosting intimate workshops and henna parties for those who fancy trying their hand at the traditional skill.
1. Tell us about how long you’ve been doing henna and who/what got you interested in it?
I have been doing henna from as long as I can remember as it’s a big part of the culture of Nepal, which is where I am from. However, I was awful at the start! I used to use little sticks and draw questionable dogs and stars on my hands with my mum’s hair dye. When I got a bit older (and with some practice using cones) I realised how beautiful it is and how therapeutic it is to do, so started off my wee business.
2. Is there a particular design or style that you specialise in?
I do lots of designs but really like doing patterns of flowers and leaves that continue up the fingers. The more I do the more I feel comfortable making up designs as I go along – however, this can be stressful on other people so I usually do it all over my own arms. I also like to henna hidden birds in my designs.
3. Some people are nervous about the safety of henna. What is the difference between black and orange/red henna?
Orange/red henna is produced solely from plants such as the ‘henna tree’. I have never seen this type of henna cause a reaction as it is a completely natural product.
People do like the look of the jet black henna, however, this is made from some harsh chemicals, so all the horror stories people hear about henna burning their skin refer to black henna! Personally I only use orange/red henna for my practice.
4. With a lot of focus being put on cultural appropriation right now, where do you think henna fits into that?
Cultural appropriation is a difficult subject and many people have a very different opinion regarding what is appropriate and what isn’t. Being from Nepal, I have an understanding of the background of the art. In Nepal and other countries, henna is used for celebration; for religious festivals and weddings, but in many places also for aesthetic purposes. In my workshops and with clients I really enjoy sharing my understanding of the background and culture of henna so we can all appreciate this.
5. You’ve started to run parties and workshops in Scotland, what kind of things do you cover in these?
In my workshops, I start by teaching small groups the background and culture of henna, before moving on to teach people how to do henna themselves! I love doing these.
I also do lots of types of parties, such as hen parties and birthdays, as well as weddings and any other events.
And just for fun…
6. Tells us your funniest henna story?
It was probably lying flat on the ground in the middle of the Edinburgh festival trying to do henna on people’s ankles.
7. Where are some unusual places you’ve been?
One of the best places I have been is Honduras. We went to a cloud forest and on the ‘vomit comet’, a dodgy boat that bumped across the sea.
8. If you could learn the answer to one question about your future, what would the question be?
I’m happy just to wait and see what happens.
9. If you were moving to another country, but could only pack one carry-on sized bag, what would you pack?
I think it’s fair to say that I would definitely pack a couple of tubes of henna! Definitely a camera and some shades (it better be a hot country).
10. Do you care about fashion? What style of clothes do you usually wear?
I like wearing bright colours and, of course, many many layers living in Scotland.
Learn more about Tara’s henna work or book a workshop via her Instagram page: hennabytaz17