Young artist Anwar Behbehani shares with us her successful collaboration with Nuqat's workshop for block printing that was given by fashion designer Nur Kaoukji in Sadu House December 2012. Described by Bibi Duaij Al Sabah, Chairperson of Sadu House as "a cultural center that promotes, preserves, and documents the traditional weavings and textiles of Kuwait;"Behbehani managed to create a line of notebooks, cosmetic bags and tote bags that were sure to modernize the rich cultural craft that this center embodies.
Anwar discusses the whole process that she went through and how it was all made possible. Passionate about art, design and photography, it comes as no surprise how creative she can get with her designs, portraits and sketches, not to forget the beautiful pictures that she takes with her camera.
Tell us a little about yourself…
I'm currently enjoying freedom having just graduated in June and having a blast relaxing and doing stuff I love in between. I've also just turned 22 which is my golden year, it's exciting. I love the sea, waves, marine animals, photography, art, fashion, design, cameras, Kuwait, and of course travelling.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Messy and full of emotion, it has lots of energy, I see it as an explosion. Although recently, it's more of a contained explosion. I am a lazy perfectionist and extremist; I either go all out or nothing.
Can you describe the collaboration with Nuqat and Sadu House?
Nuqat had a workshop for block printing with designer Nur Kaoukji who gave a wonderful speech last year at Nuqat and obviously moved many of us who took the workshop. She started it with making us look at inspirational images, she had folders of inspiration pictures on her computer. Nuqat announced the competition for prints based on sadu so I thought I might as well try it.
I looked at photos on Tumblr first, then around the Sadu House. I kept sketching, drawing and looking at images and imagining what it would look like. I didn’t want to design something that I wouldn’t use. I'm sure Nur can vouch for how complicated my thinking got that first day, I worked on it at Nuqat then went back to university and kept working on the design, stayed up late, and that's why I really love it now because I remember how hard I worked on something that was supposed to be fun.
As for the design, I wanted to incorporate the women that create the sadu, the sadu weavers, I’m fascinated by them ever since we spoke to them at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) last year. I was entranced and I thought I should use it for this pattern too. A picture of a gold and black men's “bisht” which can be seen at Sadu House now, attracted my attention, I used those lines, added a burqa then a sadu design around, had fun with it and we came to the final print.
What would you say were important experiences you've gained throughout the whole process?
It was fun meeting up with the Nuqat team and choosing the colors, merchandise and collaborating with the woman who goes to India along with a fashion designer to get the printing done, and to see the process of block printing. In India, they produce actual wooden blocks and reprint each by hand, and the colors are also mixed manually, creating a slightly different hue every time.
As for during the workshop itself, seeing all the different designs people in the workshop made and meeting them and Nur was also a great experience, we also had a member from Khaleejesque magazine with us. Learning to get inspired from anything around was a great experience. It was also fun seeing a person you don't know buy merchandise that had your design on it.
How do you wish to expand in the future?
I want to continue my photography and my art. I love photographing, especially people, I just photographed for a boutique and this energy, once you start, you can't stop, you want more! Other than that, I want to keep painting, photographing, and maybe have my own store, maybe fashion, maybe t-shirts, a whole empire, I don't know, you shall see!
– Fajer Al Farsi