- Brick collage updated
- Immediate emotional response
- QR codes
- Gap Crit and sketchbook
- Final idea – Tent
Throughout my work I have generated my own scannable QR codes, each one relating to links of online videos and articles from my research related to my works concepts.
Since the beginning of this academic year I have been creating these QR codes and putting them up on my studio space wall alongside handwritten comments like ” keep walking by, just like everyone else..”. They did catch some attention by people passing by and only a few actually scanned them. In a tutorial I had with artist Mark Gubb (as mentioned in my context posts) I discussed the ideas of having the QR codes as the wallpaper for the inside of the tent I plan on building. After explaining that the reason I chose to use QR codes and not any other method of getting people to read/watch the link I’ve shared, is because in uni we are required to have one relating to each of our blog sites for assessment; meaning everyone should have a QR scanner on them at uni, therefor not having a reason not to scan. The QR code has become a semi ironic/comedic factor that is recurring throughout my work. Gubb’s suggestion was to use the patterns seen in QR codes as a modern/ made up camoflage pattern for the tent ‘fabric’.
Below is a sketch of the first tent idea I drew up, and shows where I wanted to use the QR codes originally inside the tent as the wallpaper.
This piece from my Gap crit on the far right, is a collage I made with newspaper articles and collected trinkets, with QR codes related to different articles related to the same issues discussed in the newspaper articles. Although it is not one of my favourite pieces, it is the stepping stone into using the QR codes in a more serious matter in my work.
*UPDATED 5th May*
This is my final updated photograph of my tents progress. I took my work one step further by spreading the calligraffiti on the floor in the tent as well as the walls and then out onto the floor and up the wall behind where the tent sat in its final position. I hung the Kufiyehs and Hattas (Palestinian and Jordanian scarfs) on the tent and up on the wall, the way and elderly man would hang up his scarf after a long day in his home, wheres as now due to settlers in Palestine occupying the land these innocent families are forced to leave their homes and some killed. My work often reduces me to tears but this was the most emotionally satisfying piece I have ever made but makes me cry even at the thought of the amount of people and their lives that are affected in every article related to my tent.
I used trinkets throughout the interior of the tent to give a decorated and lived in refuge shelter feel. I have spent so much time working on, in and around the tent that I have connected with it, making it a familiar place to me now, which I think helped this aesthetic naturally. The details in the objects that build up this shelter are the most important aspect of my work. From worry beads (rosaries) that I made out of clay with teapot handles and other found objects. Checker pieces, pieces of glass, plaster bullets; hopefully all of these speak for themselves in my work.
*UPDATED 29th April*
I have added more articles than I could have imagined using a few months ago. I ended up using over 400 screen shot pictures of articles that I had saved over the last couple of years; all printed, cut, collaged and calligraffitied on, as a bigger part of the tent and what covered the majority of the inside of the tent.
While working on the tent fabric which is what made up the walls that I covered on the tent inside, I realised that the semi-meditative or venting state that I would get in to create/paint on my work was all done on the floor. I felt most comfortable listening to specific music after subjecting myself to a while reading/watching articles related to home and the Middle East. My work is deeply personal and allows me to control my emotions and frustrations to do with the subject matter, as this is my reality and I often have to take a moment to myself and get myself together a little more.
I have found that I have been documenting all of the information I have read about the recent events occurring in the Middle East and all of my ideas for my work and final idea for my degree show installation, through the use of sketchbooks. The photos are of numerous recent pages in my sketchbook that are relevant and an important contributing factor to my work. All of my thoughts, ideas, sketches for designs, emotional rants (a large concept which relates to my work) and notes of significant influences. I struggle to blog sometimes due to a variety of reasons, but keeping a sketchbook is always something I have enjoyed and done naturally throughout any project I work on. It helps me visualise my ideas and concepts, no matter how silly some seem a few days after when I go through the weeks notes; all aspects influence my work and help me keep my mind at ease. After all my work is emotional and extremely personal to me, and my work has become a somewhat reflection of my current ‘everyday life’.
I have inserted a link to one of the voice memos I have recorded about my ideas in general as a mental note. As I have dyslexia, visuals like sketches and voice memos are the best way for me to get my ideas and thoughts down, as writing them tends to fluster me and most times ends up with me forgetting the idea.
The photos below are of my sketchbook. The first photo is of final sketches of the plan for the tent I am planning on building, inspired by refugee tents. My final tent idea is a tent frame made out of bamboo, as I was unable to borrow a tent frame from the scouts/army, and found it to be too expensive to but a collapsable chicken coop off the internet. The bamboo is strong enough (I have experimented and will post pictures soon) to support the paper and bits of fabric (Hatta’ or Qufiyeh fabric relating to Jordan and Palestine) that will be covering the frame. I will calligraffiti all over the tent, during a day I plan on shutting myself off from the world for a while and read and listen to music, hoping to end up with a genuine, honest, emotional response to it all.
I may present my sketchbook in the centre of the tent, along side a jar that will contain trinkets such as a compass, a clock or some worry beads, symbolising my roots; my parents and grandparents, born and raised in the Middle East (Palestine, Egypt, and Jordan), that I always remember with trinkets like these on them at all times throughout my childhood.
Below are some facts that I have documented about Palestine; that wouldn’t normally be shared often on mainstream media.
The picture below contains one of my first sketches of the concept I had about building the tent. I was unsure whether to use museum like barriers around the tent for viewers to walk around; I’m hoping to make viewers feel uncomfortable and slightly overwhelmed by the realness of the issue my work is about, while looking at the “home” hundreds of thousands of people have been living in, ‘looking and not touching’ from the outside; as the world is doing about the occupations and current issues occurring on a global scale.
These are a few sketches I did in response to some research while listening to music; the article was about a woman who lives amongst the refugees in a camp and has dedicated her life to around 400 of the refugee children.
The words say ” Ya rabbi, albi byi’taa, byi’taa albi.” which translates to “My God, my heart breaks, it breaks my heart.” I said this under my breath after reading the article. They are common empathetic phrases used often in the Arabic speaking culture.
These are some images of the work that I made and displayed at my Gap Crit in uni. I hoped to create a post protest-like environment with a variety of pieces I have been working on since I decided to continue working in the subject of current Middle Eastern issues, each piece a different contributing part of my working process.
Using newspaper and paint, I created the piece on the left (as seen below). The names in dark olive green (I later realised could have been related to the known olive trees + Palestine link) of innocent victims that have been murdered in Palestine under the age of 25. That is my generation. The words I wrote on top I feel are self explanitory, ” They grew up 166,02km away from me, but never had the chance to “, which is in fact true.
The piece in the right hand corner is a collage I made with numerous black and white articles I have scanner-collaged (ie. I used a scanner with a variety of compositions of objects I selected like books, trinkets and newspaper articles).
Through using QR codes that I generated that were linked to numerous videos, online articles and petitions, that I’d hoped viewers to watch and be informed of the real issues, that drives my work.
I hung up the Jordanian Hatta’ (as seen below) with worry (aka prayer beads) as if someone had hung up say, their keys and coat for the day in Western civilisation, but as a reflection of Palestinian civilisation. I did not wish my work to be about a single Middle Eastern culture, however I included references from a variety of them hoping to suggest this. The Jordanian Hatta’, Palestinian and Syrian handmade trinkets that I associate with small sentimental objects people may carry on long journeys or to remember loved ones, and stones varying in shape and size, all scattered symbolising the rock throwers during war and revolution.
The overall feedback I received on my Gap crit was optimistic, and has helped me with the push I needed in my current work. I am passionate, always have been and probably always will be as this is work about my roots; making it quite personal to me.
*I have edited and added newer photos into this post to help show the progress in this recurring theme (writing using Arabic calligraphy, my immediate emotional responses to stories I learn about) in my work*
“Oh God, my hearts breaks, it breaks my heart. Akh.”
The banner includes phrases I wrote down as a response to the stone throwing children of Palestine, simply saying “if you run fast enough, you live”.
These two pieces include a poem: “A storm cannot uproot a forest”, relating to the occupied Palestinian land taken by illegal Israeli settlers.
The other simply says, “Oh Lord, oh God, poor things akh. God protect them, Lord please, for the love of God, please help them, for the love of God.”
This piece is the names of the innocent victims under the age of 25 that have been murdered in Palestine through the occupation, that took place 166,02km away from the home which I grew up in. A country so close (both for personal family links) and an unbreakable connection between the Palestinian and Jordanian culture; how could I not identify with these kids, I grew up with friends just like them. That could have been us.
“Strength” in response the the ridiculous accusations and altered truths main media portrays. The necessity to stay strong and power through no matter what is said.
*UPDATED* 20th April
I have used the older pieces I created as emotional responses and created some more after listening to music and reading numerous articles about the U.S elections that are currently taking place; specifically Donald Trump. I was frustrated and allowed my brain to bilingually write down in both Arabic and English how I was feeling in response.
“Khara ala’ Trump” + “Savage bastard”
I have spent hours in the tent alone over the past 2 months, adding parts, building, and resting in the tent. This has made emotionally connecting with the tent easier as I feel comfortable working in the environment and began to build an emotional attachment just as anyone would build an attachment to a constantly visited shelter.
These are some photos of my original brick collage which I plan on displaying in my final exhibit at our degree show, which was influenced by the work I created for my gap crit at university. I have used a variety of materials in both parts of this work, like broken pieces of brick that I collaged and tried to ‘fix’, evil eyes (handmade by me and ones made in Palestine, Syria and Jordan), glass pieces, a broken piece of teacup, worry beads, stones and fragile plaster bullets that I made with names of the fragile and innocent victims, on them.
Although all the objects act as symbols in themselves; together I hoped they would be able to represent the “rubble” that remained after the chaos, with trinkets and remains of the home and life before it all. I have been enjoying using the objects and trinkets as contributing factors to my work, each with its own voice and input into my work.
I wanted each final piece to be able to give a subtle message and be semi-self explanatory. Although some have text in arabic, I wanted the overall compositions to have clues as to what the piece is about or what it’s suggesting. Through the use of the symbols like the Evil Eye and the Hand of Fatima, I hope to suggest that the found objects have now turned into items of good luck, hope and optimism. Items that the refugees cling on to for hope and decorate their new fabric houses, in hopes to make it feel more like a home.
This is a piece (above) that I had started at the beginning of the project and finished recently at the end of my research. I wanted to come back to this piece and create an almost full circle; tying in the new methods and techniques of working that I had learnt or created through out the year after starting it. The portrait in the piece is of a young Syrian refugee boy who’s photograph had captured my attention in my early research for this project. He stood in a crowd and seemed to have a very honest and innocent expression on his face which made him seem still; while the world around him seemed busy. It made me think about the child’s future and the uncertainty of where he would be in a few years time?, who would be around him?, how much longer is this going to go in for? will all of his family still be around him?, would he even be able to go home after the chaos has ended? I wrote some words related to these questions in Arabic, in the background of the piece. Through the use of darker colours like deep purples and greys, and collaged newspaper articles about the chaos in Syria, I tried to recreate a busy and negative feeling background to mirror the boys surroundings at the time. I used purples and blue, in contrast to the boys orange-y skin tones to compliment each other. The word “Al Mustaqbal” is written boldly at the bottom of the piece which means “the future” suggesting that the boys future is uncertain from now on. Due to the writing being a main focal point in the piece I wanted to write it in Arabic as to not make the meaning too obvious. When I went back to working on this piece I then added patterns of the symbols I had been using like the evil eye and the hand of Fatima spray painted lightly using a stencil to create a geometric pattern in the corners. This was done to symbolise the hope that I felt was needed for the boy, in order for him to have a chaos free future.
I had originally encountered a problem while trying to figure out a way to hang this piece. I hadn’t anticipated that that the weight of the piece would be such an issue; and when time came to hang it up on the wall space that I was given, I was stuck. Due to the painting being done on a large piece of MDF board, it is extremely heavy, therefor in order to be able to hang it up I had to glue on some wooden brackets and use nails and screws to reinforce them. However when I tried to screw holes in the wall I found that the wall was actually hollow in the middle and therefor they wouldn’t be able to hold the weight of the painting. However I was able to divert the problem and stood the piece on a wooden block, and placed one of the hands of Fatima I made in front of it. This worked out well as it hints to the idea of palm reading (a large belief in the Middle Eastern culture) and relates to the idea of an uncertain future.
This collage of smaller pieces are all done on found pieces of wood that I manipulated slightly and cut up (which relates back my research of the artist Tayseer Barakat) and are created using a mixture of collage, acrylic paints, coloured pencils, spray paints and stencils, ink stamps, tracing paper and hot glue gun glue. The girl in the portrait is a young refugee girl who lost her sight in one eye from shrapnel in a bomb in Syria. The text on the left is a newspaper transfer that translates to “Haqii Ashki” which means “I have a right to complain”. All the pieces were created with the theme of the media corrupting and distorting the truth in the news about the refugees. The piece with the larger evil eye and text over it is arabic and translates to “we are strong, we will remain strong, even after the chaos.”
This piece is done on an opened up box which links again to my artist research of working on “junk” or found objects. I wanted to create a piece that on its own was powerful and has the aesthetic of a house decoration.
These are a few pieces that I created using mixed media and collaging methods (clay, hot glue, found beach glass, dried paint, exc.) to create another collective collage using bright and vibrant colours. However all with sayings or ‘thoughts’ related to refugees and war. [Top left: “shujaa” means bravery. Top right: “Himayah w Quwah” means protection and strength. Bottom left: is a prayer for protection.] The colours used throughout these pieces were influenced by my field project Understanding Colour, and compliment each other and hopefully give a positive feel; so the pieces can be used as decorations to bring hope or as a reminder to stay optimistic.
This piece was done on a crate that I found and distressed. I made the hanging ‘worry beads’ with tassels and charms using a variety of mix-matched beads. The evil eye in the middle has text all around it which I wrote about my thoughts on all of the refugees and the approach the media has taken to cover their stories. It is done on pieces of different types of card and is done in acrylic paint and spray paint. My aim for the overall piece is for it to seem like it would have been used for a large symbol of luck possibly in the refugee camps.
I created this portrait using acrylic paints and coloured pencils, over a newspaper article in arabic about the Syrian refugee children in the Jordanian camps. The hand of Fatima sprayed on in the corner and the overall appearance is meant to show that the girl in the piece symbolises pain and ‘not having a say’ in the situation, also suggesting that the media in the west and the Middle East are different and the truth about the situation is not being told honestly.
This piece at first glance is meant to look like a painting or decoration that would be hung up in a home, and is done with bright acrylic colours to symbolise a positive feeling. However the text translates to the quote from a news story that I had seen about a 5 year old Palestinian boy in occupied Palestinian land, who had shouted the words “Ana lasto irhabiyah” which means simply, “I am not a terrorist”. The boy was nearly arrested in Palestine for suspicious behaviour while playing outside and was accused of being a terrorist. This is what inspired this piece, as I wanted to show what stories Western media avoids covering.
These are some of the Lino-cut print experiments that I produced on tracing paper. I used this method because it never gives the same two results and has a rough and newspaper print feel to it. I felt like these pieces were powerful on their own as the words translate to “Al shuja’a” which means “strength” and “Al jaben” which means “a coward”. Words commonly used by the media and in newspapers related to stories about the refugees.
This is the piece that I did in one of the workshops I attended about cut out paintings (which influenced most of my other pieces). It is meant to symbolise a refugee tent and the cloud on top symbolises the burden of being a refugee. The hand of Fatima and the evil eye in the middle are meant to be reminders of hope ‘look down on’ the refugees protecting them. The words translates again to “Al quwah w al shujaa” which mean strength and bravery, two of the traits needed for the resilient refugees to survive. The colours I used emphasise the burden of becoming a refugee and the pain related to it.
These are my two sketchbooks that I worked in throughout the two fields projects this year; the black one is related to the “Gorrillas in the roses” project, and the brown one is related to the “Understanding colour” project. I chose to display them on a small table covered in a traditional Middle Eastern head scarf (which is not worn for religious beliefs but more as a symbol of pride from the country it represents). I have put two clay ‘decorations’ or symbols of luck that I have made on top, to turn the display into an installation piece on its own.
I started off this project a brief idea of the concepts I wanted to work around, but no idea where to start. I started with the idea of the refugees suffering in the camps in Jordan (Jordan being home for me) and the effects that the trauma and chaos of war has had on them.
The Zaatari refugee camp in the North of Jordan was the camp I decided 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 such as Herakut and Joel Bergner and the positive impact they made on the Zaatari community through their work. I wanted to create work with similar intentions on a smaller scale with subtle messages; making others more aware of the pain and emotions related to being a refugee. I wanted to show that even in darker times, no matter how hard things became, they were still able to remain optimistic and their resilience enabled them to make the most of their new environment.
I have experimented with different mediums and techniques to try and best express these feelings. For example; painting and collaging using newspaper articles about the refugees or similar issues, printing different forms of text and calligraphy, in addition to using symbolic images of Middle Eastern good fortune.
Despite being held back by a period of illness, I feel successful and proud with the outcomes of my work.
1) Children and the worst affected:
I started off by researching the refugees and the ones that were most affected which I found to be the children. I had originally wanted to focus on the children that were affected and to possibly work on portraits of them; showing the pain and distress that they had suffered but also that they remained positive and optimistic. However I then realised that this would be difficult for me to do due to ethics and consent (of the pictures I had planned to take of the children to use as first hand references). This however lead me to using newspaper pictures to paint the portraits (where the children that had been photographed had already had consent from parents for the photo to be used). I also then decided to focus on the idea that made me focus on the refugee children in the first place; that they remained positive even through chaos and remained resilient and strong. This could be said for refugees, adults and children alike, in general; and so I began to use positive but strong messages in my work from this concept.
2) Colour Theory (field project):
This project influenced and helped me develop my work throughout the whole year, so much more than I had originally anticipated. After all the workshops, I started to experiment more and more with colour and began to use it to change the emotional aesthetic in my work. Using complimentary colours and more rich tones (whereas previously I was sticking to the safe option of more dull and dark tones) has enabled me to create pieces that have a more positive feel and this has allowed me to use text to focus on the serious aspect/message I have been trying to convey in my work.
3) Cut out paintings:
I attended a few workshops where we worked on cut out shapes of wood (instead of square canvas which I was used to before), and found them to be something that I used throughout the rest of my project. I made my self familiar with the machinery in the wood workshop and after collecting numerous ‘found’ pieces of wood (this relates to my research in contextualisation about the artist Tayseer Barakat, who creates pieces on found objects) and I began to cut the pieces ready to work on. I found that the outcomes using the method of cut out paintings to be more visually interesting and allowed me to add a new dimension to my work.
4) Collaging and using mixed media/ found objects:
I started to work with found objects, and used the influences of the collaging field project I was apart of throughout the rest of my work. The project was so helpful and inspired me to start working and layering my work which enabled me to incorporate newspaper articles (from newspapers both back home in Jordan and here in the UK) about the refugees. I also began experimenting more with texture and layering text and symbols of good luck/good fortune through the use of linocut prints, spray painting and stencils and even using glue guns and hot glue to create raised text. This influenced the rest of my work throughout the year and with influence of the colour theory workshops as well; took my work to a new, brighter and more interesting level.
5) Final pieces being displayed
I have explained in detail the final outcome of each piece. I chose to display them in collections of collages to emphasise the feeling of them becoming ‘decorative’ pieces and for them to be used as symbols or reminders of hope for the refugees or those suffering in the Middle Eastern wars and chaos.