Breaking the sand barrier to create images
Manama, December 29, 2013
A Bahraini woman is pioneering a novel art technique by using sand to create breathtaking images of places and people.
Zahra Isa is a trained aircraft engineer, but a lack of job opportunities means she is still out of work more than a year after she graduated, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, she is one of three women who are being supported by a programme designed to help those who have experienced problems at home.
The Batelco Care Centre for Family Violence, in Budaiya, launched the scheme to help rehabilitate women who have faced domestic issues.
"We do not want good talent to be wasted and that is the reason we are launching our Support the Survivors initiative to help these women," said the centre's consultant psychotherapist Dr Sharifa Swar.
Isa now hopes to harness her hobby of "painting" with sand and one day open a centre that specialises in teaching the art form.
"It's been tough finding a job in Bahrain and nothing has clicked so far, despite getting good grades in engineering from the Middle East Aviation Academy in Jordan," the 20-year-old told the GDN.
"I had to look for other alternatives and decided to work on my hobby of sand art, which has helped me connect to different people."
The Batelco Care Centre for Family Violence is now promoting Isa's work along with fellow artists Madina Ali and Amani Altawash as part of its survivors programme.
Isa creates images by pouring sand onto a surface and then shaping it to reveal stunning lifelike portraits and landscapes.
"I started to devote my time on sand art and I can create different images in less than 10 minutes," she said.
"I just used sand to create a man's face on a marble floor, which was my first work, and have not stopped since then."
Light projected from beneath the surface of a customised, transparent table gives her work a dramatic impact - but her biggest task is obtaining soft sand with which to craft her pieces.
"I have cousins in Saudi Arabia who get me boxes full of desert sand, which I wash with Dettol to get rid of any bacterial infection and later the sand is dried under the sun," said Isa.
She conducts sand art workshops and posts pictures of her work through her Instagram account @zoza_art.
However, Isa has now set her sights on taking part in the regional TV show Arab's Got Talent and wants to open a training school in Bahrain, focusing on sand art and other vocational subjects.
"I was the only woman in the batch of 60 men to complete my engineering with good grades and am now working hard to promote my hobby," she said.
"Today's women can multitask and they should be given a chance to be out there and prove themselves to the world."
Meanwhile, Ali and Altawash produce artwork using acrylic or oil painting on canvas, illustrations and other creative work.
Much of Ali's work is about women and the struggles they face and she portrays them as colourful dolls.
"Nobody gives a chance to female artists as they still feel the role of women is confined to being mothers and taking care of their kids," said Ali, who shares her work through her Instagram account @omhanin_82.
"This is what I highlight by making illustrations of different dolls, through which I highlight the problems women face in our society.
"What we have now are women being put behind closed doors to cook and look after their husband and children, but we are more than just dolls."
One of her projects at Albareh Art Gallery, in Adliya, involved setting up two rooms sprayed with different graffiti.
"The first was a white room where the child grows up and has all good memories and the second room was black showing the other side of what women face - whether that is domestic violence or other problems," she explained.
Meanwhile, Altawash - whose work is available on her Instagram account @mino_tawash - said it was vital for women to be given a chance to express themselves freely.
"All we need is strong support from people and concerned bodies to help us be out there," she said.
"We need an art revolution that will help all budding artists in the country showcase their work and be world class." - TradeArabia News Service