Portrait Of A Nation - Berlin Edition by Salama Nasib


Yes! From Abu Dhabi all the way to Berlin!

ADMAF, the foundation that organized and hosted "Portrait Of A Nation" show back in 2016 in Abu Dhabi, has transported the same show all the way to Berlin to be part of Berlin Art Week 2017. Over 20 participating artists including myself have been invited to inaugurate the opening of the show at Me Collectors Room, which is an exhibition space for private art collections of Olbricht Foundation + a cafe.

The exhibition showcases a variety of works by 50 Emirati artists from all different generations, under various themes including: Nation and Unity, Geography and Nature, Architecture and Urbanism, Portraiture and Identity, Religion and spirituality, Language and Calligraphy, and finally Tradition and Heritage. My installation piece titled with "Her Patterns" is part of the commissioned projects. A blog post on the piece can be found here


List of the artists who joined the trip includes: Ali Al Abdan, Sarah Al Agroobi, Sarah Al Ahbabi, Ahmed Al Areef Al Dhaheri, Ammar Al Attar, Khalid Al Banna, Ahmed Al Faresi, Eman Al Hashemi, Saeed Al Madani, Mohammad Al Qassab, Azza Al Qubaisi, Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi, Hind Bin Demaithan, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, layla Juma, Mohammed Kazem, Najat Makki, Mohammed Mandi, Abdul Rahim Salem, khalid Shafar, Obaid Suroor, Khalil Abdul Wahid, and myself, with Nasir Abdullah - the UAE Fine Art Society manager - being the special guest for this trip.


The 5 days trip consisted of being present at the gallery, engaging with the visitors and the media,  and visiting cultural spaces. I went two days ahead of the group in order to install my piece at the gallery with the amazing installation team (picture below), which gave me an extra time to discover more about the city and the area around me. Upon the arrival day of the artists we had a welcome dinner at the hotel which allowed us to introduce ourselves and get to know each other more. It was a very pleasant gathering indeed.


Her excellency Huda Al Khamis Kano inaugurated the preview of the exhibition for journalists from Berlin Art Week, as well as the private view opening on the next day alongside UAE Embassy to Germany. Her excellency gave a very sweet talk mentioning the strong bonds between the two unique art scenes, and how this show is setting a stepping stone for something of a huge potential and benefit. While going around the show and taking a photograph with each artist, she kept on advising and encouraging us to keep on producing, on creating, and on grabbing every possible opportunity that we stumble upon. I found that to be a very kind and sweet thing to do. Bless her efforts and continuous support to the art scene in the country (and abroad!). We were also invited to the UAE Embassy in Berlin for a lunch gathering, hosted by HE Ali Abdullah Al Ahmed's wife. It wasn't part of the itinerary but the embassy generously offered to host us upon our arrival so that was very kind of them. Berlin Art Fair was included in our schedule and pictures above show the fair.


As for the cultural visits, they included various historical buildings as well as museums and collector's spaces including: the German Parliament (Bundestag), Bahnhof Museum, Julia Stoschek Art Collection, and Boros Art Collection. I really enjoyed visiting the private collector's spaces and learning about the journey the owners had to go through in order to become the collectors they are now. Made me realize as well how much UAE is lacking on this end in the hope it progresses positively in the next coming years. As for the German Parliament, I would recommend visiting it indeed considering how much they invested in the display of art and commissioning artists to produce works specifically for the venue relating to the history of the nation. Some of these artists included Gerard Richter and Antony Gormley, and of course Sir Norman Foster as the architect behind the Dome of the Bundestag (which symbolizes the unification of Germany). 

Other things that took place and were part of the itinerary included hosting workshops at the exhibition venue by Azza Al Qubaisi and Sarah al Agroob, and a talk on Identity by Saeed Al Madani. Our farewell lunch took place at Arabesque Syrian restaurant which served amazing food to be honest with lovely hospitlity so definitely pay them a visit and support their business. We celebrated 


Of course aside from our busy itinerary and scheduled visits, we were gathering mostly in the evenings and having dinner together. We shared a lot of special moments together bonding, talking, and even discovering the city together. I am truly blessed to be amongst these amazing artists, and inshAllah more trips and projects to come in the future. 

Thank you ADMAF, once again, for this beautiful experience. 

The official press release can be found here. All image are courtesy of ADMAF, Ammar Al Attar, khalil Abdul Wahid, and myself.

Enjoy.

Summer 2017 at RCA & London by Salama Nasib


With this post I officially mark the end of first year at RCA :) 

What a quick and fulfilling year it was. Learnt a lot, met a lot of amazing individuals, and most importantly enjoyed my time a lot. Yes, I did have some difficulties and issues with few matters now and then, but then who doesn't really. RCA and London gave me more than I expected. 

End of June I submitted my final dissertation paper bound into a book. Results will come out either on September or October I believe. Unfortunately I hadn't taken any picture of it but will try to remember and do so once I receive my copy of it later next year. Oh what's the paper about you're asking? It is about the similarities between printmaking as a medium and memory as a study, talking about the notions of 'imprinting' and 'impressing' that affiliates both concepts, and how this affiliation inspired artists - such as Louis Bourgeois - to utilize both notions when creating printed artworks. It is more of a conversation that inspires the reader to understand the history behind both concepts, the scientific, philosophical, and the artistic studies behind both, and the importance of highlighting such comparison. That's in a nutshell! More on it in a separate blog post soon.

Above are further process pictures of "Transition" piece, in which I was working on in the last month before completely focusing on the dissertation paper. As mentioned in the previous post, this piece is mainly inspired by Her Patterns installation piece that was created for ADMAF last year. I wanted to continue this process of prints and cut-outs filling a space, and what better reference I could refer to than from my usual walks through the beautiful Battersea Park in London! The idea was to refer to an old photo of me and my mother where I take an element from it and just expand it outside the photo frame to occupy a space, and in this case it was the leaves and the branches. I had aspirations of building a space with these leaves and branches, but due to time limit and limited studio accessibility in the last two months I only managed to experiment in small size. Perhaps I could do it properly next year. 

I first tried 3D printing so I took actual twigs from the park and then me - alongside the technician - 3D scanned it then let the machine do its magic. It was an amazing and a clean print, but considering the scale of this project I wanted to explore other possible options as well. I then moved to the foundry and made a rubber mould for the twigs, using wax and silicon moulds with white resin casting. During that time I was the only first year student still working in the studios rather than writing the dissertation paper, so I had plenty of quality times with Shaun the foundry technician and with second year students finalizing their final pieces. The whole process took around two weeks, and have done my first ever resin's castings successfully. It was so satisfying and such an accomplishment, but had to stop due to writing. In addition, I received positive feedback on social media which pushes me to further explore this later when am back to school. All in all it was a great exploration, and definitely opened my eyes to using the other studios RCA is offering to us. I also took a laser cutting induction and laser-cut pieces of papers in the shape of leaves (which I haven't taken any picture of unfortunately). More updates will be shared in the next term so anticipate this project!     


Pictures above are for the final grad show. The quality of the work that was presented at RCA was of a great level, some are definitely exceptional pieces that should definitely go somewhere! I viewed most of the works that were showing in Battersea campus as most of the print department work was located there. Most of the Arab's group's works were showing there as well and it gave me a great feeling to see them completing their MA and finally graduating. A lot of clients came to view the works and a lot of them actually bought student's works - such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton - which was very promising and encouraging indeed. Pictures above are of works that I liked - more can be viewed on RCA's official website. 

In preparation of grad show the first year students had to empty their spaces and so there is a picture of my empty space above (with the crying emoji!). It was so sad for us to leave our spaces but in a way it was a great way to push us to focus on writing. The shameless self-portrait is of me post-handing the dissertation book, and the Galaxy chocolate was our reward from the school :)


In addition, I was trying to have some life outside school and managed to hit London's most anticipating Print fair at the Royal Academy. To me it was an amazing experience seeing all these various prints from professional, established, and emerging printmakers in one place. Some of the booths are publisher's booths in which they print and take care of publishing artist's prints such as Anish Kapoor, Grayson Perry, and Kiki Smith. Overall it was a rewarding visit and I anticipate next year's edition. 

I also participated in the Small Press Project at UCL where RCA had a stool and I showed my Kharareef books. The turn out was good and we had excellent feedback. Nothing got sold but we had fun :) Hopefully in the future we can be part of other fairs.


Post dissertation submission and grad show I took the chance to see London. I checked out some galleries here and there - such as The Serpentine - and absolutely fell in love with this year's pavilion designed by Francis Kere. As for the gallery, it was a solo show of Grayson Perry who's prints I've seen at London Print Fair and the show was definitely worth it. There were so many varieties with work presented ranging from large tapestry work, to customized vehicles, to small sketches of his ideas and processes. I also took the chance and visited House of Illustration for the first time - it's been on my list since day one but up until the last few days in London I managed to check it out. Was a lovely venue and appreciated the cute shop. A venue to check out more often for sure. Other venues I've visited included Tate Modern, The British Museum, and Eid in London celebration at Trafalgar Square! Wasn't bad at all. 

Furthermore and most importantly, I went to inspect some of the printmaking studios here and there during the last two weeks of my stay in London. I managed to check out three major print studios including: East London Printmakers, Thames Side Print Studio, and Paupers Press. I met the latter at London Print Fair and had a long conversation about printmaking in the UK and in the UAE. It was such an honor to visit their actual studio where all the printing of famous works is done at. So much respect to this place and their lovely staff. As for East London Printmakers and Thames Side Print Studio I felt so much joy visiting their studios and inquiring about membership possibilities and the facilities they offer despite the long journey it took me to reach there. I follow these two prominent studios since before, and being able to visit those locations physically rather than virtually is rewarding big time. Both studios are amazing with their facilities and the staff/ members in. I would probably work at both studios once I finish school next summer, if not before. There's more in my list to visit and check out so anticipate further studio's posts soon.

How do I feel finishing first year of MA studies? Hmm..It's a mixed feeling to be honest. Kind of  happy and proud of what I had learnt and accomplished, yet kind of anxious about the time left to produce - and see - more. It has been a great year so far. Can't wait for next year.

Enjoy.

Spring 2017 at RCA & London by Salama Nasib


Hello theeere :)

So obviously I'm not doing so well updating my blog section regularly, and I'll dare and use the ultimate excuse of being busy with RCA and life in London! Honestly this term was very hectic and very busy, however, it was defintely very fruitful and very progressing at the same time.

The first thing I've done once I came back from Dubai beginning of January was taking an Introduction to Letterpress class with the Master Ian Gabb! Printing using a letterpress has been my dream ever since I came to know such a thing exists (that was during my undergrad days at ZU). Ian was super helpful and patient, answering all my unfiltered questions and never ending curiosities. I never thought assembling the letters would consume this much time and energy, let alone choosing the type and the size of it. Every single technique in printmaking requires so much attention and precision, and guess what: I still love it. 

We printed our types on sheets that were then cut into postcard sizes with the postcard details already printed on the back side of the papers. Pics above show some of the vital processes in using a letterpress machine. 

I fell sick on the same day and didn't attend college for like two weeks. During that time students were preparing for the annual WIP show (work in progress) hosted in every department across both campuses (Kensington and Battersea), mainly for first year students. This show showcases works that are in their development phases, and is open for public to view and engage in conversations with the students. They said approximately around 3000 visitors passed by the show over a course of three days which is great! As I was ill I couldn't prepare for it much so decided to showcase the outcomes of last term's work, mainly the Kharareef prints and the process in realizing them (hey, it's a wip show after all :)


We finished from the WIP show to find ourselves preparing for a group show at CGP Gallery. This was solely organized by our Print department for both years to take part in. For the first year students to get that exposure and understanding of what it needs to prepare for a show, and for second year students to test their work and get feedback in preparations for the grad show. I continued with my Kharareef prints and aimed at finalizing the layout of the book, the cover, and the materials used. There were so many tests and experiments that took place before deciding on using somerset paper for the content, and Ebony black sheet for the cover, blind lino embossing for the titles on the cover, and Japanese Stab Binding with various patterns to show on the binding. It does look sleek and minimal, and I couldn't be any happier indeed. You can see my poor calligraphy skills in writing the titles, until I asked Amal Al Gurg - a calligraphy artist and a friend - to step in and save the legacy of Arabic calligraphy. 

The highlight(s) of this project is (are) introducing me to the Hydraulic Beaver Press. It is a beast! I never came across it, and all the other presses are nothing next to this one. It generates so much pressure perfect for woodcuts, lino prints or blind embossing (which is what I used it for). Another highlight is visiting the famous Shepherds Bookbinding shop . Can you believe I used to order online the bookbinding supplies from this shop during my full-time job at Tashkeel? That is insane. I was so emotional getting into the shop and physically browsing and touching the products. Such a beautiful feeling. 

Other things I did were attending a wood and metal induction hosted by two technicians from the Sculpture department, and a bookbinding introduction workshop hosted by Sharon - our lithography technician. The last picture above is the annual exhibition for the RCA technicians hosted at Dyson gallery in Battersea. 


Pictures above show the final kharareef books installed at the CGP Gallery in London. The slanted shelf was built with the help of our wood-shop technicians. The poster was designed and then screen-printed on a thin but strong Japanese paper (Don't recall the name now!), and it worked well I must say - something to consider for later developments of the Kharareef project. So the show was divided into two groups so two openings. My group's show was titled with "Freshly Squeezed" as you can see it is very much squeezed indeed. A lot of visitors shared the opening with us, and received plenty of positive feedback from the visitors and during my crit post-installation. 

The Kharareef series was also shown during Sikka Art Fair this March as part of the Kharareef House curated by Hind Bin Demaithan. It was a great opportunity to showcase this work with UAE audience as the project is targeting this group to be honest. I was overwhelmed by the positive responses received from friends and admirers, and it motivates me to continue the series and reach my target of creating around 8-10 different folklore stories by the end of this year. Let's see :)

The "During the Holy Month..." illustration was screen-printed as well and was shown at the Woven Heritage show at Al Serkal Avenue during march. This show was organized by Shaghaf Group whom initiated this very much needed Printmaking exhibition open to international artists.

While still working on the Kharareef series, I started on a new project inspired by "Her Patterns" textile installation piece. Haven't worked on it much yet, but it is coming along and will share more soon. In the meantime I am still illustrating more folklore stories while writing my dissertation paper which we submitted the first draft of it - I told you this term was hectic! I am having fun and enjoying being at RCA and in London. There's always more to see and more to do and learn. It's been great so far.

Enjoy.  

Fall 2016 at RCA & London by Salama Nasib


So here it is, a quick visual summary of what I have been working on through out the past few months at RCA. It was intense in terms of managing our times to make artworks, attend lectures and tutorials, catch up with exciting events and such, while settling down in London. (I still haven't completely settled down yet!)

I have decided to continue working on the traditional folklore stories, also known as Kharareef, and just take it further from there. It falls under the memory direction (check out my statement on the about page), and I started to feel the importance of recording and archiving those stories as there are no official documentary or reference of them all together. A friend of mine shared a document by abdulAziz Al Musallim who archived most of those kharareef in his book published back in 2007. I recalled a lot of familiar stories that I used to hear before, and also discovered new interesting ones! Pretty an amazing written resource with minimal visual references. Contact me if you're interested to get a copy!

Back to my work, the first illustrated story was Bu Daryah, created as a commissioned project for the Past Forward touring exhibition in the USA. Since then, I had the urge to create more of those illustrations, and finally taking the chance of being here at RCA to do so. Following the minimal and illustrative style of Bu Daryah (also the dark humor in it :) ) I continued with another popular kharoofa called Siesta Donkey. Above are images of the process in creating this story. You can find a closer shot of the illustration on this link here

I also enjoyed taking my time exploring the application of various print techniques and familiarize myself with the amazing print studio here at RCA. I tried photo-etching, aquatint, and etching, as well as screen-printing all on Somerset Textured paper. It was fun, and am ready to continue the rest of the 5 stories in order to bind them at the end and present them as a visual archival material of our traditional kharareef. Further experiments are coming along with this that will include animation, so keep an eye on it - promise it's going to be amazing ;)


As for London, it has been an amazing journey so far. Just so much to catch up with and check out. A bit too much! I tried to spend most of my weekends exploring new areas or places, and am glad to have my list ready for next term haha. 

I had the chance to visit the V&A museum and check out the history of lingerie, as well as the “You Say You Want A Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 - 1970”. Pretty informative and well divided shows. I also checked out “The Infinite Mix” at Hayward Gallery which was super duper amazing. The other double super duper amazing is the small Publishers Fair that took place at the Conway Hall (which I plan to participate in next year hopefully!), and the Illustration Fair at the Bargehouse. Beautiful both of those fairs. In terms of talks, I attended few college lectures hosted by interesting people including the Turner Prize nominee Anthea Hamilton, as well as a talk by Dr. Sultan Saood Al Qassimi at the Imperial college on the subject of Arab Art in a political context. 

Furthermore, as part of the AcrossRCA project I was selected to join a four days course on the basics of Islamic Geometric patterns at The Prince’s Foundation in Shorditch. Beautiful, beautiful place. Recommended big time. Lovely staff too and look, a ceramic plate of my own pattern on it!

It is worth mentioning how family and friends supported my move to London and made it such a positive shift. Without you all this would have been quiet tough. Meeting you all, and introducing me to your family members and friends is something I will always cherish in my heart. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness indeed. You are all a blessing.

Finally, just before I finish the term, I had an absolute pleasure and joy to queue outside the Royal Albert Hall and join all those loyal fans in entering Kylie Minogue’s Christmas Pop Up Shop! No, am not a loyal fan - I just like her :) But I know a dear friend who is a true fan and this is something for him. It was a fun day for sure. 

That’s it for now. Can’t wait to be back home for Christmas break. Can’t wait to continue my explorations as well. Fun times.

Enjoooooy.