I have been experimenting with different textures, colours and materials (such as hot glue, acrylic paint, ink pen and spray paints) to create brightly coloured smaller pieces from found pieces of randomly shaped wood. I have kept the original cuts, carvings and dents in the pieces and worked around the ‘flaws’ to beautify them. Each piece has a message written in Arabic related to refugees or the idea of pain and chaos. This one for example says “Quwwah” in Arabic, which means strength, which I wrote using a glue gun and hot glue to give it a 3D effect when I spray painted over it. I am so pleased with the way these pieces turned out. All of them simple and small with big bold colours and meanings. “Shuja’a” means strength in arabic. I like the idea of using English letters to write an Arabic words phonetics so that non-Arabic speakers can still read the message without instantly knowing what the piece is about. I plan on working on this crate using some symbols of good fortune/ good luck, to turn this item of ‘junk’ into somewhat of a lucky charm.
Rana Bishara is a Lebanese born artist who work is mainly based around social and political issues linked to conflict.
The reason Bishara uses cacti a lot throughout her work is because it has become a symbol of the “Nakbe” which is the name of the time of conflict and tragedy in 1948 in Palestine. The reason for this is that the cacti is resilient with little resources, it can protect its self against danger and can survive even after being uprooted. It was also used as fences to keep enemies off unwanted territory. The cacti is a strong symbol for the Palestinian refugees.
Her use of calligraphy and typography in some of her work helps support the narrative but also gives the viewer better insight into the message being portrayed. Although the text is not easy to read (which is similar to my own work; as I use it to symbolize thoughts in someone’s head who is angry or struggling like a refugee) some words and phrases are legible and give the viewer an insight into her emotions and thoughts going through the artists mind at the time.
Her distinct work using Cacti and calligraphy often portrays a message that may not be u sera told straight away at first but when the knowledge of the subject is known; becomes perfectly clear. This is something I wish to add and incorporate into my work more by adding symbols and words that may not at first be understood; however with an explanation becomes clear.
I have been trying to find a way to make a subtle yet strong impact in my work however have found this difficult. Through the use of calligraphy, Arabic text and clipping from news articles I have tried to achieve this however found that it was sometimes unclear to those who don’t understand the language. I may start to add a caption or title for every piece, in English as to give the viewer a clearer idea of the narrative of the piece but to not give away too much and get the viewer thinking.
I started off this project knowing briefly what ideas and concepts I wanted to work around, but no idea where to start. I decided to start off around the idea of the refugees suffering in the camps and the effects the trauma and chaos of war had on them.
The Zaatari refugee camp in the North of Jordan (Jordan being home for me) was the camp I decide to focus on. For my subject work I started looking at different ways I could portray emotions and the truths of the war and its effects, looking at artists like Herakut and Joel Bergner (aka JoeArtista) and the murals they created in camps and the great impact they made on Zaatari community. I decided to work similarly creating pieces that had an impact on a smaller scale with subtle messages; making others more aware of the pain and emotions related to being a refugee; specifically the children affected.
I have experimented with so many different mediums and techniques to try and best express these feelings from using collaging skills learnt in field and printing calligraphy/stenciling to painting using oils and using inks for writing traditional calligraphy. Although I was set back a bit due to illness and being on bed-rest, I am still motivated to continue to work on this project and to expand and explore the area further to create more work with good impacts and messages.
These are pictures of the progress so far for the cut out painting I designed for our new field module. I decided to link this to my subject area as well as I though it could move my work into a less serious place, but still subtly conveying a message. The piece is inspired by the tents in the refugee camps and the evil eye/all seeing eye (which is believed to be a lucky charm that looks out for you in the Muslim and most of the middle eastern area) is looking down on the tent and acting as a halo. A confusing piece with surrealist hints but I am excited to see where this piece goes.
I was extremely excited to start off this project as I had done a similar one last year which compiled collaging and cut out paintings and pieces of work to create pieces with more dimension. However I was not able to attend all of the sessions and workshops we had planned for this project as I fell ill and ended up unable to attend or produce any work for a while. The group used Apps such as Aurasma to create collages from hand made collages, that moved like an illustration when seen through the app. I kept up to date with all of the things that had been going in the group and experimented with my work. From the few sessions I was fortunate to attend before, I thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from and in fact has influenced my work throughout the rest of my subject work.
We began experimenting with different types of collaging such as using magazines, newspapers and comic books to overlap, tear and texture our pieces with. We cut out hundreds of images that we wanted to use in our work and began collaging. We used paints and drew on some pieces as well; which showed us that collaging doesn’t just have to be overlapping magazine clippings, but can take on a 3D element instead of the usual 2D, which left us with an endless amount of opportunities to experiment with. This is one aspect that has been influencing my subject work specifically and has encouraged me to use text and textures in my work more and to give them more dimension. For example, I have been experimenting with hot glue over text to give it a bubbled effect, scrunched up newspaper articles under patches of paint to make it blend and give a ‘hidden’ feeling, and even layered bits of corrugated card and found bits of cut up wood to create a not so usual ‘square canvas’ like piece. Whilst catching up with the work that I had missed I began to try using other materials as encouraged by my tutor to experiment and build up a strong body of work. My subject work has allowed me to tie in everything I learnt through this project as a large aspect of my work was about found objects and reworking into them and ‘beautifying’ them. Using old bits of wood and card I have been collaging over, spray painting using stencils, and painting patterns onto my work to build up these layers enhancing what would have been before, a simple portrait, adding a whole new depth to my work.
Although I wasn’t able to attend all the sessions and workshops I benefitted immensely and am thankful I was able to attend some, as they helped add a new dimension to my work. It kept me excited and inspired to produce work while I was unable to attend, and still does with my work throughout the rest of the year.