the palm tree of life at dubai design week

the palm tree of life at dubai design week . 2020 (image by fatma al mahmoud)

i'm so happy to announce that my textile piece 'the palm tree of life' is being exhibited at this year's edition of dubai design week. this is the second time this piece is shown – the first being in the 'fashcultivate' exhibition last year at 1971 design space, whom the piece was originally commissioned for and is part of their permanent collection.
the 'fashcultivate' exhibition, curated by khulood bint thani and fatma al mahmoud, returns with a new exhibition design by alya alghfeli. dubai design week is from the 9th until 14th november. so make sure to check it out if you can, and keep your social distancing in check! this exhibition has some great fashion and textile pieces on display – photos don't do it justice. the dubai design week edition of 'fashcultivate' is on display in building 5, at dubai design district (d3). for exhibition and venue details, check out the links here and here.
before ending this post, i'd like to thank khulood for her constant support and inviting me to be a part of this exhibition last year. also a huge thank you to fatma, alya and the entire 1971 team for their efforts in installing the show, their constant updates over whatsapps and dm's, and making sure it all looks great for the public to enjoy...


if speech is silver...continued

if speech is silver... (body wrap) . 2019

if speech is silver... (sarong) . 2019

if speech is silver... (shirt) . 2019

if speech is silver... (mask) . 2020

hello november – this strange year is almost coming to a close. hopefully, no more surprises until then...
i'm happy to announce my textile series 'if speech is silver...' will be exhibited once again some time early next year. for those that missed the exhibition and post about this particular textile series, check out last year's post here. in addition to the 3 textile pieces created last year (body wrap, sarong and shirt), i was commissioned to create an additional textile piece for next year's exhibition. keeping with the theme of talismanic textiles, i created a face mask, inspired by the traditional face covering worn around the middle east, commonly known as a 'burqa' or 'battulah'. and just like the previous pieces, i incorporated letters from an ancient script that was among the many languages preceding arabic, titled 'dadanitic' – commonly used in regions around today's saudi arabia. here's a short description about the new edition to the collection:

the tradition of face coverings and wearing masks in the region is deeply prominent, rooted in the region’s history and culture. concealing one’s face happens for various reasons, be it religious, a form of modesty, or protection from various factors including weather. even though covering one’s face in the region is commonly practised amongst women, there are some instances where men cover their face as well.
by adorning the battulah with select letters from the dadanitic script that reference talismanic symbols, the mask will carry properties that protect the wearer when worn. can a mask with symbolic protective powers serve a purpose in today’s world? looking back at 2020, covering one’s face has become extremely prevalent, with mandatory mask wearing a common practise in most parts of the world. there is a sense of pertinence to reviving age-old traditions of wearing talismanic garments for these uncertain times – protection is both a physical and intangible force.

i'm really happy with how the mask turned out. it really does feel talismanic with its combination of patterns, motifs and symbols, pigments and dyes, embroidery and fringe – all carrying talismanic properties based on textile traditions.
stay tuned for a future post announcing the exhibition details. until then, enjoy looking at the complete 'if speech is silver...' collection. this is the first time i photographed my textile works prior to sending them off to exhibit – usually i photograph my works at the show. i have to thank my buddy azim for all his help in assisting with the setup and photography. i should definitely invest more time in photographing future textile works, and maybe invest in a textile display stand!


speak out...

silence kills . 2020

i worked on the illustration above for the lebanese offices of medecins sans frontieres for their #inktober2020 instagram campaign. i've never participated in any inktober activities in the past, but i made the exception on this occasion as it was for a good cause and spreading an important message.
each invited illustrator was assigned a topic to illustrate. i was assigned 'speaking out', which is one of msf's important core beliefs as an independent medical, humanitarian organisation. as msf provides medical aid and support for people in various countries in crisis, they are also vocal about their stance when disagreeing with certain views or politics when helping in a particular country. msf observe neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal humanitarian and medical aid, but neutrality is not synonymous with silence. according to dr. james orbinski, former president of msf, "we are not sure that words can save lives, but we know that silence can certainly kill".
we're seeing examples of people stepping out to voice the wrongs that are happening everywhere. it's important to speak up than stay silent, especially in these times. my illustration is inspired by these acts of speaking out, and shows how one might feel when they're not able to speak the truth. the arabic on the cage loosely translates to 'silence kills'...
thank you msf lebanon for reaching out, and i hope you're happy with the illustration. to know more about msf's approach to speaking out, head to the link here. and check out their instagram page to see the other illustrations in their campaign. i end this post with a process gif to show you where the illustration started and how it evolved into the final you see above.



hoof . 2019

late last year, i worked on a short comic that was meant to be published in an upcoming comics anthology for release some time this year. unfortunately, because of the covid situation, the publication is on hold until further notice. until then, i wanted to share with you the mini comic i worked on titled 'hoof'!
'hoof' is based off a gazelle like creature that's been in the back of my mind for some time. hoof was conceived during a comic book making workshop i was part of years ago, where i created a more child-friendly version of the character (see 'hoof & fin'). 'hoof' is this mythical creature inspired from folktales from the uae. the realm of emirati folktales is fairly new to me, and have only recently been researching it because of access to stories translated to english (in case you've forgotten, my arabic is quite bad!). there are countless stories of creatures luring in the dark, to scare children and keep them away from wandering off into the desert or away from their homes. this also goes back to the tradition of believing in spirits and djinns which is quite common.
i wanted to create a short story inspired from these local traditions of folktales and storytelling, as well as the action packed superhero comics i grew up reading. 'hoof' in short, is about not believing everything you hear. sometimes, what you're told to fear or believe is bad, might not be as bad as you think. 
i hope to develop the world of 'hoof', and create an epic comic about his adventures, where he comes from, and the colourful characters he meets along the way. i just hope i get to do it someday. until then, i hope you enjoy this short story.


off to the cultural foundation...

the cultural foundation i . 2015 (for 'emirati expressions:conventions of arts')

hello october! i am happy to announce that i'm off to abu dhabi for the next three months for an artist residency at the cultural foundation. i was supposed to start my residency earlier in the year, but between working on a few projects, which later got canceled because of the pandemic, and then the immediate lockdown, i was able to push my residency for the last three months of 2020. let's hope things don't get worse and not lead to another lockdown. 
the reason i applied to be a part of the residency was because i wanted to concentrate on making work without having to follow any briefs or exhibition themes. i've prioritised a lot of client based projects of late for the obvious reason of being financially self-sufficient. because of this, i haven't been able to focus on a studio practise that's explorative or just making work for myself. i'm hoping the residency allows for me to be playful and explore ideas and projects i have yet to come up with. i also think the residency will be a great opportunity to really have some time to myself, away from distractions of home, friends, social media and the depressing news of the world. 
i plan to share my artist residency experience, as well any projects that come my way. the next three months should be exciting, so stay tuned.


blue's rules

'blue's rules' covid-19 safety illustrations for warehouse 421 . 2020

we're in september and the world still hasn't been rid of coronavirus! numbers seem to be increasing locally, and the news around the world isn't getting better. it seems like the world has gone mad, and it's all too much to cope with at times. but i'd like to think that our earth is going through some changes, and things need to get worse for it to get better.
projects like these, however, make coping with bad news slightly easier. with warehouse 421 finally reopening after it's abrupt closure in march due to the covid-19 pandemic, i was commissioned by the team to work on a series of covid-19 safety precaution illustrations for the space, informing guests on how to behave when occupying the premises. the team wanted something fun and cartoony, similar to my mini comic 'garden gathering'. we came up with the idea of having a mascot showing me around the warehouse, explaining the rules that need to be followed. the mascot is none other than blue – warehouse 421 manager faisal's pet dog! as an active occupant of the warehouse, it made sense to have blue as my illustrated dog guide, walking me through the rules as we navigate ourselves around the warehouse.
i really like how these illustrations turned out, and i can't wait to see their application around warehouse 421 in person. i plan on sharing application photos of my illustrations in the space, but until then, i hope you enjoy the illustrations here. and if you're visiting warehouse 421 (or anywhere for that matter), make sure to follow blue's rules! thank you warehouse 421 for the opportunity.


covid-19 artist relief print sale round 2

'gulf photo plus covid-19 artist relief print sale round 2' announcement . 2020 (image courtesy of gpp)

'eviction' for 'gulf photo plus covid-19 artist relief print sale round 2' . 2020 (image courtesy of gpp)

eviction . 2020

i'm so happy to announce my participation in round 2 of the gulf photo plus 'covid-19 artist relief print sale', in collaboration with 6:3 collective. the print sale aims to support those in the creative community that have been impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. these have been very tough times for people everywhere, and many in the local creative community have been struggling over the last few months with projects postponed or entirely canceled.
i worked on a new illustration titled 'eviction' of some emptied out architecture i spotted in sharjah that'll probably be demolished at some point in time. i found it beautiful, and thought it would be a great opportunity to illustrate it for the print sale. i hope the illustration generates interest, and people purchase it. i guarantee it will look great in your homes!
'eviction' is priced at aed 350, and measures at 15 x 10 in. if my print isn't what you fancy, there's plenty of other beautiful prints to choose from, created by some of the most talented uae-based graphic designers and illustrators. it's truly an honour to be showcased alongside many of my peers and closest friends.
please head to the 'covid-19 artist relief print sale' page here. the sale will be live until october, so get to shopping now! whether it's for yourself or presents for others, your purchases will truly help those involved.