This was done using watercolours, coloured pencils and ink pens.
This was done using watercolours, coloured pencils and ink pens.
Recently I have been working on my Jewellery pieces, while trying to incorporate more Arabic influences into each piece, whether it be by adding the traditional symbols of protection (the Evil/All-seeing Eye and the Hand of Fatima) or Arabic calligraphy. These are some of the examples of how i have been trying to achieve this.
Being an international student from Amman (Jordan), I have been subject to scare after scare, as a result of biased and falsified main media stories being shared in the West. The heartbreaking chaos that has taken place in the Middle Eastern area; war, revolutions, extremism, occupation and social injustices have affected thousands of refugees, my family, friends and the people that I proudly share a culture and home with. My inspiration formed from main media articles in comparison to social media articles that I have collected and read over the last 2 years, from both Amman and Cardiff. Through the use of Arabic calligraffiti (a method combining calligraphy and graffiti), collage and some sculpture, I have created work that is a personal emotional response, including my honest thoughts, commonly used phrases and poetry as a therapeutic way to deal with the articles in the media and bring the lives of the innocent to attention. Additionally I aim to give others an insight into the reality of the issues and facts about the innocent lives affected and a perception Western media will not portray, hopefully creating more sense of a global community rather than an ‘us vs. them’ way of thinking.
Through looking at Laura Provosts work I have decided I will neither be making a minimal or excessively messy environment in my work. Provosts work uses objects to speak for themselves in a composition, which gives a bigger sense to an overall theme throughout the environment. I wish to use the trinkets and found objects in my work, and specifically selected items like the Jordanian and Palestinian headscarfs (culture references), the worry beads (an older generation reference) and evil eyes (superstitious belief reference), all of which allows the viewer to interpret their own narrative from the objects without giving the context of the work away.
Anne Hardys work is similar to Provosts in which they both use objects to fill and create en environment that is surrounded by objects, which each have their own voice, suggesting what the work is about without giving away too much of the context or narrative of the work.
“Anne Hardy’s photographs picture depopulated rooms that suggest surreal fictions. Working in her studio, Hardy builds each of her sets entirely from scratch; a labour-intensive process of constructing an empty room, then developing its interior down to the most minute detail. Using the transient nature of photography, Hardy’s images withhold the actual experience of her environments, allowing our relationship with them to be in our imagination.” Saatchi Gallery website.
Part of my research process and the reason for my drive and passion in my practical work has been the articles I read, share, videos I watch, people I speak to, mainly on social media sites. They break my heart but make me feel like I need to be heard and my contribution is sharing this all through my art and to educate and be as honest as possible about the reality of the chaos occurring even as you read this. That is the point I’m trying to make, is right now, as I type this, as you read it, this is all still going on. This is my day to day, it’s heart breaking and I have had many a heated conversation online with people who have other views on the matter, breakdowns and plenty of tears. I grew up with this and this is me documenting it all because I need to, and expressing this all through my art work.
The first photo is one of my studio space wall when I began to save and collect hundreds of articles, images, links, saying, quotes and other random bits of information; anything I could get my hands on related to the issue, so I could give the best and most honest point of view through my work, hopefully influencing others to do the same. Although it changes on nearly a day to day basis, it is a wall where others can constantly find new information, and a visual mind map for myself.
The frustration I feel, I let go of through reacting to these pieces and responding to them through my painting and calligraffiti.
These are just some examples of the screen shots that I have saved of articles that I have saved and read and shared. As emotionally triggering this can be sometimes, my social media is full of posts like this and I will always make a point of sharing them.
I cannot express my frustration when it comes to doing more in order to help. I have thought and researched and attempted twice to get into the refugee camps back at home in order to just lend a helping hand in any way shape or form; however sadly through plenty of red tape and months of waiting and trying, I was unable to visit. I share my artwork and the articles so I can make others aware of the issues. I feel like my mission is to make others remember that its not ‘us vs. them’ it’s a global community.
Although these are graphic, they are sadly the honest truth.
Writing my dissertation was an experience I had been looking forward to starting for most of my time at university. Although at first I had no idea what I wanted to write about, through Field and Subject work I discovered the world of calligraphy; Arabic calligraphy in particular. I began to research and enjoyed watching various videos throughout my research, however I began to find reading very difficult, not only because most of the research the topic that I was researching into was in Arabic, but also because I found out that I have dyslexia. Calling this a hurdle, is an understatement, but its what I had to overcome and although I tried my best to get as much help for it; circumstances didn’t allow for any further help to be given to me. I continued to research and although hit ‘ a wall’ for a period of time, I ensured I was always informed on any updates in the world of Arabic calligraphy and in the Arabic graffiti scene; to keep motivated.
Looking more into the history of the world of Arabic calligraphy made me feel a sense of pride and I was incredibly interested in the way the language was able to spread not just in the arabian peninsula; but also on a global scale over time. The religious connections that Arabic calligraphy has with Islam are plenty, and it is believed that Arabic is the sacred language representing Islam now. The spreading of the language and the religion, ensured that calligraphy remained loved and appreciated through time. The verse in the Quran named “Al Qalam” meaning The Pen, discusses the importance of documenting history and the stories through time to ensure the same values and morals remain with the future generations, through the use of a pen and calligraphy. Calligraphy was also a way to show respect to the text in the holy book, as it is considered a skill that may only be mastered by a pupil who is also trained by a master, after much practice. This added an importance to the skill and the reputation that goes with being named a skilled master calligrapher; ensuring that it has remained a respected skill till this day.
I researched more into the contemporary side of calligraphy as that is where I was able to find a large variety of resources to research and was able to connect it personally to myself (as I grew up in Jordan in the Middle East, and this made it interesting and easy for me to relate to). Festivals, exhibitions and work from Dismaland inspired me both in my dissertation and in my practical work for my Subject project (gallery exhibition), are all the way I tried to research and what I began to become influenced by in my dissertation and in my practical work. I started to see the two merge into each other naturally throughout my work and began to feel inspired to continue to incorporate Arabic calligraphy in my practical work.
In my dissertation I examine the different styles of old Arabic calligraphy and where they all decent from (which is scattered and influenced from all over the Arabian Peninsula). I then proceed to look into and examine the way contemporary Middle Eastern artists and artists that have been inspired by the Middle Eastern art, are creating work with the same traditions, styles, structures and rules applied in calligraphy throughout their work. This was something that inspired me to practice my calligraphy skills in my work and incorporate the same rules in the way I write all the text throughout my work.
Looking at contemporary Arabic artists like Mohammed Gaber from Egypt, whose work has been used as a symbol of unity in during the Egyptian revolution.
Or Shirin Neshat whose work is about socio-economical issues and issues of inequality for women in the Middle East, having lived in places like Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
Throughout my research I began to feel more and more inspired and passionate about the issues in the Middle East and in my opinion my dissertation research is what really kept me inspired and become more aware about the issues in the Middle East in recent history.
In my practical work I incorporated Arabic calligraphy, poetry, emotional responses and objects that I found that relate to my work, all together, to create a personal and strong emotional feeling, for the viewer to experience the narrative of my work, which is usally about the refugees and war. Although my work has taken a toll on me at times, as it is not particularly happy concepts my work deals with, I have remained inspired and tried to use my dissertation research as fuel for creating my work, which I am so passionate about, and want to make a difference and have my voice heard, when it comes to the Middle Eastern issues and the way through art, messages and truths can be shared. Silent protests can be held and symbols of solidarity can be shared enabling the voices of the people to be heard.
I have been using the material and objects in my work along side the calligraphic skills that I have learnt throughout my dissertation research, to be the strength and foundations in my work to portray my narrative concepts. Through using found objects that I have collaged, painted and written calligraphy over them, I have created pieces that have more of a cultural representation as though the objects themselves have the ability to suggest to the viewer what my work is about.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my dissertation and although its been difficult and trying at times, it has opened a whole new world of inspiration and respect in my artist work and I know i will continue to research and practice calligraphy throughout the rest of my work for a long time to come.
I am working in response to the sudden influx of social media coverage, of the devastations happening throughout the Middle East; specifically the children and families affected. Through constant stimulation on social media, news updates every few minutes, articles and graphic photographs being shared constantly, my work has become something that influences my every day and is my main drive, to hopefully make others more aware of the reality and severity of these issues. Main media such as news channels only share a select few stories; very often with a subjective opinion related, often avoiding the truth. I have always been influenced by social activism and am hoping to raise awareness of the overlooked, but very relevant issues. Through the use of newspaper articles cutouts, printed photographs shared on social media, and found objects that I have been obsessively collecting; I aim to create collages that give a sense of unease and uncertainty. My influence for this is the Syrian refugees and those living in occupied Palestine; and how they live in constant fear and uncertainty. By using found objects like broken bricks, which I glued back together, and old photographs, I have collaged a number of large compositions. Through the use of Arabic calligraphy, English text, bricks and discarded and overlooked objects which could have huge sentimental value to refugees or those forced to leave their homes; I hope to emphasize the idea that once something is broken, it can never really be put back together without cracks.
Throughout my research I realised how much it has taken an emotional toll on me. I am constantly researching, looking up, reading and watching news update after news update. By immersing myself in all of the news I can’t help but feel Obliged to document as much as I can, incorporating it into my work, by using QR codes linked to articles or photos, which I will imbed in my collages. Through constant stimulation I plan to take advantage of news that just at my fingertips on my phone and include the actual screen shots into my work.
These are just some of the large collection that I have seemed to have collected over the past few weeks. (my space below; a visual mind map of all of the articles, artist influences and mental notes I have collected.) The collecting has been a huge part of my project and is what tends to be my biggest inspiration and main drive to continue to work, on such a hard and emotionally heartbreaking subject to me.
This is a cut out I made which says “Even if the world ends tomorrow, today I shall plant a tree”. This is my own exaggerated take on calligraphy based from my handwriting in arabic. I plan to use this stencil on an exposed screen print, for collaging and as possible backgrounds for future works. I felt the phrase could be used with a number of concepts related to the refugees having to remain optimistic and resilient.
I plan to make more similar stencils, to use for spray painting onto the boxes to build up my collages. For the pieces below I used pieces of thin wood I cut up to drag paint across the paper to create an organic mark, similarly to a method of calligraphy which uses larger, flat and solid tools to write.
I also made beads and stamped letters into small pieces of clay to paint and add onto my collages/sculptures. I used English letters to write phrases or words in both Arabic and English. An aspect of my work that I enjoy; which is that not all can be understood and hopefully leave the viewer with a feeling of unease or curiosity.