RIYADH: Saudi artist Basma Al-Nahdi picks up her brush dipped in vibrant colors to paint abstract shapes and designs on rocks for her small business on Instagram.
But, the 42-year-old is a unique artist. Al-Nahdi has a very rare systemic syndrome called tuberous sclerosis, an organic brain disease that causes intellectual and multiple psychiatric challenges. She only has one kidney and lives on an oxygen device.
Al-Nahi loved to drawing and art but was lonely. To combat isolation, Al-Nahdi’s mother, Souad Kandiel, thought of an activity to integrate her daughter in society.
“I wanted to give the best quality of life to my daughter, who struggles with eyesight and has a breathing problem. She was very confused and depressed because she had nothing to do," Kandiel told Arab News.
The earliest manmade art form is rock painting that tells stories of civilizations. The mother and daughter duo made dominos, tic-tac-toe games, funky characters, and heritage inspired drawings on stones — to tell the world thier stories.
“We first started giving birthday gifts to friends who requested more of our artwork. I was surprised at people’s reactions, so we opened ‘Desert Stones’ on Instagram (in June),” she said.
“The fact that you are touching a piece of nature, feeling a connection to it, and getting a sense of grounding makes this experience therapeutic as well,” Kandiel said.
They then joined a local bazar to promote and sell their artwork. “What surprised me was the number of orders that we got for Halloween and the heritage collection. But, we faced a production problem because we were only two working on this project. Luckily, volunteers helped to make it happen.”
Al-Nahdi now also gives rock painting workshops at Arty Cafe Jeddah for people with disabilities and for children who “enjoyed them.”
Kandiel believes that this could be “a local industry for people with disabilities that could grant them jobs for them. For example: Some can draw while others can paint."
She looks forward to collaborating with other Saudi artists and hopes to be supported by Saudi Tourism Authority or Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage to take their project to the next level.
“My daughter and I want to expand this business,” she said. “It would be nice if we could collect stones from around the Kingdom so we could draw on them and gift them to tourists.”