Artist interweaves feminist ideals with textiles

'Jungle #1' by artist Hoda Tawakol, from her collection 'Palm Trees,' on display at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 01 January 2019
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Artist interweaves feminist ideals with textiles

  • Artist Hoda Tawakol has her first exhibit in Dubai
  • An exhibit about the ever-evolving feminism discourse

DUBAI: French-Egyptian artist Hoda Tawakol’s first Dubai exhibit, which is running at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde until Jan. 3, is a timely contribution to the ever-evolving feminism discourse.

Tawakol, whose work has been featured at the gallery since November, was inspired by her experiences growing up in France, Germany and Egypt.

Tawakol has made a name for herself through the use of hand-dyed and sewn textile pieces, sculptures, fabric collages and works on paper.

Her work, which mimics female cycles of life in an attempt to deconstruct stereotypes, is inspired by the feminist movement of the 1970s.

In fact, interwoven within her artwork are feminist ideals and blatant critiques of patriarchy.

Like many, Tawakol wishes to quell the expectations placed on women.

Her collection, entitled “Dolls,” is an expression of anger at women being objectified.

In “Lures,” she uses a falconry hood, a tool normally used to calm the birds of prey, to symbolize the way in which men oppress powerful women they wish to subdue.

Her artwork is masterfully done. It is symbolic and almost interactive in a way that simple paintings cannot be.

The pieces are so eye-catching, indeed, mesmerizing, not least through her use of captivating color schemes, that they almost beckon a response.

The exhibition is named after the main piece on display, a tapestry of black and red-colored fabric from her series “Palm Trees.”

The piece features hand-dyed textiles in Tawakol’s signature style. The series, which she began in 2015, is inspired by her multi-cultural childhood.

“Palm trees make me nostalgic,” the artist said. “They symbolize the Egypt of the 1940s and 1950s, the era of glamor, the golden age that I didn’t experience. At the same age, my playground in Europe had another kind of palm grove I found in the Palmengarten, a botanical garden in Frankfurt in Germany.”


Where We Are Going Today: Shatllah

Updated 22 March 2019
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Where We Are Going Today: Shatllah

  • Shatllah’s prices are reasonable, while the assistants are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful

Do you need to add a little life and color to your surroundings? Houseplants are often said to be a source of positivity, and Shatllah has taken this concept to the next level.

Forget the idea of a lonely looking plant in a boring beige pot; this shop adds beautifully designed containers and creative touches that turn them into delightful decorations that are almost works of art. One in particular that caught my eye was designed to look like a tiny garden, complete with a miniature table and chair.

Shatllah’s creations make for perfect gifts, which is how I discovered the shop, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra’a district, while looking for a present for a friend who loves houseplants. I was so impressed with its wares that I ended up buying some for myself as well. After all, who would not rather have a living plant decorating their home rather than artificial flowers or other fake items?

Shatllah’s prices are reasonable, while the assistants are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. They are more than happy to offer advice on picking the perfect plant and how to take care of it when you get it home.