Pattern Inspiration From Azulejos to Zellige

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Having arrived in Dubai a month ago, and receiving our boxes from China just a couple of weeks back, I'm still very much just settling in.

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There's a certain charm to camping in a half empty apartment, setting up a makeshift picnic on the living room floor, navigating as a wayfarer though a maze of cardboard towers, boxes piled to the ceiling and scattered through the rooms while you settle on where each item's new home should be.

Somehow the act of physically unwrapping your possessions one by one gives them more weight, particularly half finished, half forgotten projects demand to be completed, because if not then why have packed them at all? It's with this introspective state of mind (and to be honest open and welcome to any distraction that will let me put off unpacking the next box) that I unwrapped four tiny canvases long set aside. I remember I had originally started this artwork with my trip to Portugal and it's gorgeous azulejos in mind, those beautifully hand painted tiles of repeating patterns in tones of blue that pave the floors and walls of Lisbon.

 

But, somehow they seem oddly in their place in Dubai. A bit of googling helped me understand what seemed so familiar; it turns out that azulejos were brought to Portugal by the Moors and evolved from Moroccan zellige tiles, which being an islamic art form has many similarities with the patterns I see around Dubai. And so now having successfully procrastinated my unpacking, the only way to justify all this time spent is to finish the decorative embroidery to close the loop and on these long overdue tiles now that I finally live where they belonged all along. 

 Acrylic on canvas + Embroidery

Acrylic on canvas + Embroidery

Pppssssttt- Curious to see more about the trip that originally inspired this piece? Check out my Travel Journals