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Exhibition  UK

I choose to inscribe the word ‘Noor’ in a classical Arabic calligraphy called Diwani. This type of script has a curved line and smooth edge which compliments the line of the burqa shape. For me, the use of calligraphy, regarded as one of the most beautiful art forms in the Arab world, was the most appropriate form for inscribing the concept of the light of Yusuf into the burqa fabric and conveying its associated meaning of beautifying the woman’s skin. Calligraphy also carries an additional meaning that resonates with the craft of burqa making and burqa wearing. In Arabic, calligraphy is called ‘khatt’ which derives from the word for ‘line’, ‘design’ or ‘construction’, and it literally means ‘to outline’ or ‘to mark out’.


Once transferred to the laser machine, the word ‘Noor’ was engraved onto the shiny side of the burqa textile and literally revealed the word by eradicating the surface sheen but without burning the fabric. In further laser cut works, I created circular forms setting the word 'Noor' in the centre of the fabric. Here, I laser cut the word out and the laser machine removed the sheen in sunray lines while leaving the image of many small burqas. This seemed to me to be a fitting metaphor of being protected from the sun’s rays by wearing the burqa.

I also experimented with other methods of imprinting the fabric. For example, I used a woodcut printing technique that left the image of ‘Noor’ proud so that when run through a hand press the word ‘Noor’ was raised from its background. Through all of these varied processes of inscribing and cutting ‘Noor’ into the burqa fabric, my aim was to produce contemporary works that drew upon the rituals and beliefs associated with the Emirati burqa. This group of experimental works both symbolises and embodies the light that passes through the burqa fabric, representing the light of Yusuf as a contemporary manifestation. They bring together beliefs associated with the past into the present and also link craft and art practices through the burqa material and the use of modern technologies.

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