Home is where the art is for Saudi painter

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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on objects in her home. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 20 July 2020

Home is where the art is for Saudi painter

  • Artist brushes off lockdown blues by using walls, furniture as canvases

JEDDAH: Sometimes we find inspiration when we hear a new song or experience a wild dream. Other times new ideas come when we least expect them, as one Saudi artist found during the coronavirus lockdown.

Nahla Ghafaili decided to paint away her boredom during the curfew but soon ran out of canvases, so decided to paint on everyday objects in her home — even items of furniture.

The owner of Eleven Art and Gallery Cafe in Jeddah dislikes rules that limit her creative potential

“I had a lot of experience in different forms of art and I would look up different art forms that I could try on the internet,” she said.

For many artists, the lockdown has been a struggle, while others found a silver lining to the pandemic. In Ghafaili’s case, it was her home and the artistic potential she saw in its contents.

Ghafaili took a while to perfect her process, using different techniques on surfaces including furniture, walls, carpets, bags and sculptures already in the home.

Whenever she uploaded a video of her furniture paintings, people online told her not to “ruin” them. But the artist persevered because “it gave such great results.”

Ghafaili said she learned to paint as a child and drew inspiration from her father, who hoped she would be interested enough to develop a career out of the hobby.

The 39-year-old painter rekindled her passion for art in 2016, after “spending 12 years without touching a color pencil.”

Ghafaili said: “I fell into depression. At that time I was facing a lot of issues in my life. So I decided to get back into painting. Painting and drawing is like medicine to me. When I draw, I stop thinking and I’m in another world.”

However, the artist kept her work to herself. “It was a part of me. I only started selling my paintings to people who I knew would cherish them the same way I do,” she said.

Ghafaili still views painting as a form of therapy, and enjoys letting her creative instincts take over. That was the basis of her work on furniture, while her cafe and gallery follow the same principle. She said she never plans before painting.

The artist told Arab News that many art galleries were reluctant to accept her work because of its “out-of-the-box” style, so she decided to open her own.

She described her Jeddah gallery as an open space for artists unconstrained by rules and regulations.

“I wanted to combine my art with something else, so I chose coffee as it is a perfect medium for social gatherings. The cafe is open for everyone, including new artists and experienced painters. Even people who have no interest in art can come for coffee.”

She wants to spread the concept of her cafe across the Kingdom, inspiring artists and sending a message that boundaries should never define art.


Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Updated 14 August 2020

Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Fahad Al-Azzam has been the assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Ministry of Health since September 2019.
He has also been the general manager for enterprise at the ministry’s project management office since July 2016, where he developed and implemented a standard set of project management processes and models, and built the framework and updated it to account for developments and best practices.
It was announced on Monday that Al-Azzam’s role as assistant deputy minister for empowerment has been extended for another year.
Al-Azzam obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, in 2007. He studied abroad in the US, obtaining a master’s degree in engineering and technology management from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 2014.
Prior to his current position, Al-Azzam worked as a cooperative trainee at the Saudi Electricity Co. between May and October 2006.
At the Advanced Electronics Co., he worked as an assistant field service engineer between July 2007 and May 2009, and technical support and field service engineer between May 2009 and December 2010.
At the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, he worked as senior electrical engineer at their radiation safety department between January 2011 and February 2015.
He developed a safety program for exporting and importing electronics devices to and from Saudi Arabia and worked at controlling the risk resulting from the use of radiation-emitting devices. He also worked there as a project manager at their project management office between February 2015 and July 2016.