This month, UAE-based 81 Designs and French-Tunisian artist eL Seed will be presenting their new collaborative project entitled “The Journey.” The art project is focused on conveying a detailed “perspective of coexistence, humanity and peace” at Abu Dhabi Art, which is in its 11th year and will take place from 21st-23rd November at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
@81designsme is a social enterprise bringing artists and Palestinian refugee artisans to recreate their work in the time-honored embroidery technique, 'Tatreez'. Two years ago, they approached me to collaborate with them on a project with artisans in Ain Al Hilweh, Lebanon. The idea was to recreate some of my artworks in Palestinian embroidery. The artworks were then sold in 2017 during @artdubai. It was a real success but I felt the project wasn't complete. I felt I needed to meet these women and create something with them. This is what we have been doing for the past few days. We have painted few murals all around Ain Al Hilweh, and those murals will be reproduced in Palestinian embroidery over the next few months. #PalestinianEmbroidery #AinAlHilweh #magloubeh #keftabisaniya #identity #Palestine
Paying tribute to the UAE’s Year of Tolerance, “The Journey” looks to depict the experience and life in a refugee camp. Following eL Seed’s trip to Ain El Hilweh in Southern Lebanon, he spent time with the people that live there and painted seven murals in his distinct style, in hopes to spread messages of peace and unity.
Each mural, that is exclusively designed for this project, will be translated into an artwork created in the medium of Tatreez on canvas and will be presented at the fair. Tatreez is a traditional Palestinian embroidery that has become a symbol of women's resistance, identity and heritage. Along with the limited edition of figurines, each named after the refugee women and children who participated in “The Journey”.
Visitors to Abu Dhabi Art will be able to partake in an immersive experience of life at the refugee camp. 81 Designs will have a booth that will feature 3D technology that reflects life inside the camp, providing a deeper insight and understanding of those that have no choice but to inhabit the camp.
El Seed is known for his murals and typography that merge Arabic calligraphy and graffiti, with a view to bring people, generations and cultures together. As he talks about his latest collaboration with 81 Designs, he states: “I use my art to switch perception and create dialogue. After the first project I had with 81 Designs, I felt that I wanted to do more. There is so much to do to and so much to hope for to achieve a greater impact. With respect, we can coexist and unite for the betterment of all. Working with the ladies and getting to know them on a personal level has brought more fire within me to support meaningful causes, and I consider myself lucky because I get to do that through my art.”
Umm Mahmoud (in blue) told us that the past few days spent with them in Ain Al Hilweh felt like a trip away from the camp. Despite the difficulties of their daily lives, they were always smiling and welcomed us like we were part of their family. Their strength definitly left a mark on us #PalestinianEmbroidery #Palestine #AinAlHilweh @mehdykhmili & @ouahidb - @81designsme x @tatreezdesign
Through “The Journey,” and other similar projects, 81 Designs employs skilled refugee artisan women and provides them with an income that allows for them to go forth and provide for their families. So far, the social enterprise has positively impacted the lives of 35 women.
Each art work that is a limited edition of eL Seed’s murals will be available for USD 10,000. Each hand stitched figurine is available in 3 sizes. Prices are AED 578 (35cm), AED 368 (23cm) and AED 263 (19cm).