I have been working on this project since moving to the UAE in September 2013. It began with my observations of Emirati women going about their everyday tasks. Although they are fully covered in a black abaya with a hijab or niqab, sometimes as a casual observer I could catch a glimpse of beauty escaping the abaya: a hem of delicate fabric, a shine of an elaborate shoe or extraordinary shades of colour on their eyelids. The fact that these signs of hidden beauty were unintentionally revealed was more stimulating than any attractiveness that was free to see from a simple glance. It made me wonder about the women beneath the black material; what are their dreams, ambitions and colours that are hidden from us?
The outcome of this work, created from repeated patterns in ink, is butterflies – symbols of beauty and inspiration. In it I explore my vision of Emirati women by using time-intensive techniques that mirror the process of self-beautification. This work is built up with layers of ink and watercolour washes, with the butterfly patterns added in ink to finish; highlighting the colour washes and ensuring they are noticed.
This work has been awarded 1st Place in the Art category at the 2nd Annual Ras al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival, 2014.