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Embarking on a Creative Odyssey in Ras Al Khaimah: A Stitched Tale Unveiled

The journey into the heart of Ras Al Khaimah began as a serendipitous moment, ignited by the artist-in-residence grant. Throughout my six-month residence, the vibrant layers of culture, community, architecture, traditions, friendships, flavors, and the sensory symphony of this unique corner of our shared planet unfolded before me.

Discovery of Minarets

My first moments were marked by the sight of 1082 mosques in Ras Al Khaimah, with the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Masjid Mosque visible from my residence window, serving as an unassuming muse with its captivating forms and intricate architecture, became the focal point of my artistic exploration.

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Encounter with Dr. Sabah el Sayed Soliman's Journal

The journey took an unexpected turn when I stumbled upon Dr. Sabah el Sayed Soliman's journal, "Between the Turbans and the Tops of Minarets of the Middle Age in Cairo, an Approach to Designing Styles." This scholarly work became the guiding force, adding intellectual depth to my visual exploration. Dr. Soliman's research illuminated the historical context, revealing the intricate connection between the tops of minarets and the traditional headwear worn in the Middle Ages. As I delved into the pages of the journal, I discovered the analogical analysis between headgear and minarets' tops in various historical dynasties, each contributing unique styles to the narrative.

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Artistic Exploration

The journey began with a focused study of minarets, delving into their intricate designs and architectural significance. As I immersed myself in this exploration, I started to unravel the evolution of minarets over time, understanding how they became iconic symbols of Islamic architecture globally. Days unfolded with sketches and photographs, capturing the essence of minaret tops and turbans. My exploration extended to Oman during my monthly ventures, expanding the boundaries of my inquiry beyond Ras Al Khaimah. The sheer diversity in the shapes and forms of the 1082 minarets scattered across RAK emerged as a captivating source of inspiration for my artistic practice.

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In October and November, my journey took me to Al Jazeera Al Hamra Heritage Village, a pivotal phase in preparing for the final exhibition. During these visits, I consciously opened up my senses, becoming receptors of the myriad sights, sounds, scents, and textures that define the cultural and historical tapestry.

The Gulf Sea Connection

As I immersed myself in the heritage village, I uncovered fascinating insights about its construction. I learned about the close connection to the sea woven into its foundations, using coral stones that echoed the historical ties between the community and the Gulf Sea. This newfound knowledge is the catalyst for the evolving exhibition and the conceptualization of the installation titled "Under the Gulf Sea: Celebrating Generosity and Advocating Sustainability." The installation, conceived as a tribute to the Gulf Sea, became a testament to the ongoing relationship between the land and the sea.

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A series of cyanotype prints and wire sculpting dance intricately with the graceful allure of coral formations. This artistic odyssey seeks to unveil the profound connection between the UAE and the Gulf Sea, a historical bond steeped in abundance and providence. The Gulf Sea, an ancient benefactor, has bestowed pearls for sustenance, coral stones for construction, and vast fishing domains. Over the decades, its oil and gas reserves have steered progress and affluence, necessitating reverence and unwavering protection. Paying homage to the sea's generosity, I advocate fervently for its preservation. 

As my artistic voyage continues, one stitch at a time, I eagerly anticipate sharing the interconnected stories, memories, and cultural reflections emerging from this immersive experience. The RAK Art Festival's exhibition transcends being a mere showcase of art; it stands as a testament to the vibrant threads binding us all, weaving a narrative that resonates with the heart of Ras Al Khaimah and extends beyond geographical boundaries. The tapestry I have knit, with Ras Al Khaimah as its vibrant canvas, is a testament to the power of art in fostering connections, bridging cultures, and celebrating the rich tapestry of our shared humanity.

This creative odyssey, initiated by the artist-in-residence grant, has been a personal journey, a cultural exchange woven into the fabric of Ras Al Khaimah's diverse and rich heritage. The resonance of my artistic exploration echoes not just within the walls of my studio but ripples through the landscapes and seascapes of this remarkable emirate. It is an exploration of interconnectedness, a testament to how art can be a bridge between worlds.

Through the lens of my artistic endeavor, the minarets of Ras Al Khaimah have become more than architectural marvels; they are narrating the history, traditions, and intricate tapestry of the Muslim community. The unexpected turn towards Oman in my exploration magnified the narrative, enriching the artistic discourse and unveiling shared cultural nuances.

The scholarly work of Dr. Sabah el Sayed Soliman, "Between the Turbans and the Tops of Minarets of the Middle Age in Cairo, an Approach to Designing Styles," has been a guiding force, providing intellectual depth to my visual exploration. It's a testament to the profound connections between seemingly disparate elements—turbans and minarets—a reminder of how history weaves its threads through architecture, fashion, and cultural symbols.

The inclusion of Al Jazeera Al Hamra Heritage Village in this artistic journey was serendipitous yet integral. The connection to the Gulf Sea introduced a new dimension, a historical bond beyond the architectural elegance of minarets. Cyanotype prints and wire sculpting entwined.

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