Naqsh Collective is On a Mission to Evoke the Palestinian Spirit of Times Past

Art Dubai puts the spotlight on the art collective’s deeply personal practice

In more ways than one, artists are translators of human stories through history, bearing the power to echo our narratives in a universal language. This is what Art Dubai’s latest show is all about. At its centre is Palestinian sister duo, Naqsh Collective, with a creative practice that embodies this mission to a T. 

Founded in 2009, the collective began with an introspection into the sisters’ childhood memories, retracing their heritage and Palestinian background. “Nisreen and I have never been to Palestine — we were both born and raised in Jordan — yet, we have this very strong connection to the place and wanted to know more about ourselves and our ancestors. It was a journey of self-exploration,” shared Nermeen Abudail, one creative half of Naqsh Collective. 

Pictures of their mother wearing traditional Palestinian dresses or their aunt embroidering her own garments inspired them to research these age-old traditions. That’s how they discovered the hidden stories that Palestinian embroidery holds in its colourful and geometric motif and how women developed their own personal touch while sewing, thus creating a multi-faceted and personal visual vocabulary.

“We were surprised while researching about Palestinian motifs, how women used to deal with different motifs, coding their lives and decoding their status. For example, a widow would have a different coloured dress than the single woman, the old women would have different thobes than the younger ones,” added Nisreen Abudail. “They used to talk about their environment through different shapes, different motifs inspired by the flora and fauna around them.”

The passion for Palestinian embroidery appears to be a family affair, only the Abudail sisters chose a different and personal interpretation than their ancestors. 

The artists moved away from thread and fabrics, and introduced solid materials like marble, wood, brass and steel into the process. They use Naqsh, which means ‘engraving’ in Arabic, as their medium in communicating untold stories of the women embroiderers.

The collective aims to bring permanence and resistance to the embroidery, through their hand and fine machine finished techniques. Their work is a manifestation of incredible craftsmanship and deep heart-felt inspirations. 

The exhibition showcases some of Naqsh’s best works, including their Wihdeh collection, a series of wall marble pieces with brass patterns representing Palestine’s flora and fauna. You can also discover their Akka piece, inspired by the cliff jump in the port city of Akka.

Art Dubai Portrait Exhibition will run from November 16 until January 2021

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