Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Samir Abd El Shahed | Egyptian New Weave

Capitalising on Revolution

Photo of Samir and Asad in Luxor, 2012

The New Baraka Carpet shop in the central part of Luxor in Upper Egypt, sits the cheerful owner, Samir Abd El Shahed and his trustee assistant, Asad Fickeri. Their doors opened just over twenty-eight years ago, back in 1984 and over the past quarter of a century Samir has become an expert in Egyptian tapestries from all corners of Egypt. Now he is focusing on the top ten artisans throughout the country and he tells me his business is booming. Although the tourism industry has all but dried up in Luxor, the Internet is playing a huge role in finding new and exciting markets for artists of Northern Africa and the Arabic world. Capitalising of the constant news of Egypt and the Arabic Spring one area that is finding new growth is contemporary art from the revolutionary Arabic countries. With the downfall of the Dictators the focus now is in building the new and respecting those that have been against the regimes from the outset. Unlike his counterparts up in Cairo that only support the artisans of the North; Samir has gone the distance and stretched himself out to represent the best in all the regions throughout Egypt.

There is nothing new about Egyptian Tapestries, they have been around for years and seen and enjoyed in London for over two decades but what is new is that the tapestries are quickly becoming an international must have; this style of Egyptian weaving was made famous by the late architect Ramses Wissa Wassef and his vision and creation of the Artists Village, on the outskirts of Cairo back in the 1980’s. Ramses created the village in order to support the poorest and most vulnerable children in the area. It was his wife and her friends that taught the children the importance of being able to create and encourage the craft of weaving. Today they are on their third generation of artisans, all of which have gone off to greener pastures. This initiative has been largely supported by the British Museum and also Ramses’ connections with international architects, archaeologists and Egyptologists working around the world. The Tapestries have also been championed by the Brunei Gallery at SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies part of London University through various impressive shows put on by John Hollingsworth and Joy Onykinjarko. Each Egyptian Tapestry Exhibition has found greater success and been enjoyed by all those that visited.
This unique style of the Egyptian tapestry has become increasingly fashionable with the emerging intelligent classes of North Africa as unlike the works of Persians the contemporary Egyptian tapestries celebrate and record the life of the artists. Egyptians are beginning to see the importance of names, dates and titles. The top ten artists include four from Northern Egypt of Alexandria and Cairo: Ali Sayed and his son Mohammed El Sayed, Ibrahim Eid and Helme Omar. Four from Middle Egypt of Asout and Minia: Mohammed Kamel, Said Kamel, Samir Shokri and Said El Musry and finally two from Upper Egypt of Luxor and Aswan: Usry from Sharkia and Sunflower Ali from Luxor.

Camel Market by Mohammed Kamel, 2007

Ibus Tree by Ibramhim Eid Ahmed, 2002

The works have now become extremely fashionable to own and are sold for thousands in shows around the world and auction house in North Africa and the Middle East. Samir has taken a novel approach and is using the Internet, which generates a global audience and a fabulous opportunity for buyers and sellers to purchase works at reasonable prices; this is not only advantageous to the buyers but also spawns a new perspective on the meaning of fair trade. The power of the Internet has established Samir as one of the leading merchants of Egyptian Tapestries worldwide. To see what is available and the kind of prices expected, go down to the African Well when it opens later in the year - This is certainly a wonderful way to build up an impressive Collection of Contemporary African Art. Prices start as low as 100 pounds and can reach up to thousands. The Capitalisation of Revolution and the Arabic Spring has already begun. Egyptian Tapestries are certainly set to be an intelligent investment for the future.

For more information about Egyptian Tapestries contact:

Samir Abd El Shahed
Khaled Ibn El Walid St,

Tel: + 2 0127 758 18 35


Website: African Well |

Abdou Demadash

Haraz Tree | Tree of Life by Abdou Demadash 1952-1953

Historial Background

The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 (Arabic: ثورة 23 يوليو 1952‎), also known as the 23 July Revolution, began on 23 July 1952, with a military coup d'état by the Free Officers Movement, a group of army officers led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser. The revolution was initially aimed at overthrowing King Farouk. However, the movement had more political ambitions, and soon moved to abolish the constitutional monarchy and aristocracy of Egypt and Sudan, establish a republic, end the British occupation of the country, and secure the independence of Sudan (hitherto governed as an Anglo-Egyptian condominium). The revolutionary government adopted a staunchly nationalist, anti-imperialist agenda, which came to be expressed chiefly through Arab nationalism, and international non-alignment.

The revolution was faced with threats from Western imperial powers, particularly the United Kingdom, which had occupied Egypt since 1882, and France, both of whom were wary of rising nationalist sentiment in territories under their control throughout the Arab World and Africa. The ongoing state of war with Israel also posed a serious challenge, as the Free Officers increased Egypt's already strong support of the Palestinians. These two issues conflated four years after the revolution when Egypt was invaded by Britain, France, and Israel in the Tripartite Aggression of 1956. Despite enormous military losses, the war was seen as a political victory for Egypt, especially as it left the Suez Canal in uncontested Egyptian control for the first time since 1875, erasing what was seen as a mark of national humiliation. This strengthened the appeal of the revolution in other Arab and African countries.

During the winter of 1951–1952 nationalist police officers backed by the United States and the Soviet Union began protecting and promoting fedayeen [the Egyptian resistance] attacks on British authorities in Cairo, Alexandria, and the Suez Canal. After repelling a particularly devastating attack on British shipping and facilities near Ismailia which resulted in the death of several British soldiers. British troops tracked the fedayeen into the city. On January 25, 1952, British troops discovered the fedayeen had retreated into the local police barracks. When the police refused to surrender the fedayeen, the British officer attempted to negotiate the surrender of the police and the fedayeen. When their negotiator was killed in the parley by the fedayeen, the British force attacked the Egyptian police barracks in Ismailia. Fifty Egyptian police officers were killed and one hundred were wounded. Egypt erupted in fury. Subsequently, Free Officer Movement cells initiated riots in Cairo which led to arsons. Without suppression from local fire brigades, these arson attacks further inflamed more rioting. American and Soviet newspapers promoted the incident on global wire outlets as the "Cairo Fires" and suggested they were seen as further evidence of the beginning of the end of the monarchy. The next day, January 26, 1952 ("Black Saturday"), what many Egyptians call "the second revolution" broke out (the first being the Egyptian Revolution of 1919).

King Farouk dismissed Mustafa el-Nahhas's government, and in the months that followed, three different politicians were instructed to form governments, each proving short-lived: Ali Maher (27 January – 1 March), Ahmed Naguib El-Hilali (2 March – 29 June, and 22–23 July) and Hussein Sirri (2–20 July). These "salvation ministries", as they were called, failed to halt the country's downward spiral. Corruption remained ubiquitous despite attempts by successive prime ministers to put their political houses in order. Stirrings of discontent were felt in the army, and in January 1952 opposition officers supported by the Free Officers gained control of the governing board of the Officers Club. On 16 July, the King annulled these elections, appointing his own supporters instead in an attempt to regain control of the army. A coup d'état was planned for 5 August, but when General Naguib, one of the Free Officers, informed the group on 19 July that the Egyptical Royal Army high command had a list of their names, the coup leaders acted on the night of 22 July.

On Wednesday morning, 23 July 1952, a military coup occurred in Egypt, carried out by The "Free Officers" and led by General Naguib, but the real power behind the military coup was Gamal Abdel Nasser. Aided by intelligence provided by the two super-powers and their own network, the Free Officers Movement targeted command, control, and communications posts of the Army and Internal Ministry. Several police sections that had been successfully penetrated aided in rounding up key personnel of the royal government.

At 7:30 a.m., the Egyptian populace heard a broadcast station issue the first communiqué of the revolution in the name of Gen. Naguib to the Egyptian people that stated the justification for the revolution or the Blessed Movement. The voice everyone heard reading the message belonged to Free Officer and future president of Egypt, Anwar El Sadat:[2] The coup was conducted by less than a hundred officers - almost all drawn from junior ranks — and prompted scenes of celebration in the streets by cheering mobs.[3]
["Egypt has passed through a critical period in her recent history characterized by bribery, mischief, and the absence of governmental stability. All of these were factors that had a large influence on the army. Those who accepted bribes and were thus influenced caused our defeat in the Palestine War [1948]. As for the period following the war, the mischief-making elements have been assisting one another, and traitors have been commanding the army. They appointed a commander who is either ignorant or corrupt. Egypt has reached the point, therefore, of having no army to defend it. Accordingly, we have undertaken to clean ourselves up and have appointed to command us men from within the army whom we trust in their ability, their character, and their patriotism. It is certain that all Egypt will meet this news with enthusiasm and will welcome it. As for those whose arrest we saw fit from among men formerly associated with the army, we will not deal harshly with them, but will release them at the appropriate time. I assure the Egyptian people that the entire army today has become capable of operating in the national interest and under the rule of the constitution apart from any interests of its own. I take this opportunity to request that the people never permit any traitors to take refuge in deeds of destruction or violence because these are not in the interest of Egypt. Should anyone behave in such ways, he will be dealt with forcefully in a manner such as has not been seen before and his deeds will meet immediately the reward for treason. The army will take charge with the assistance of the police. I assure our foreign brothers that their interests, their personal safety [lit. "their souls"], and their property are safe, and that the army considers itself responsible for them. May God grant us success [lit. "God is the guardian of success"].
With his British support network now neutralized, King Farouk sought the intervention of the United States, which unsurprisingly would not respond. By the 25th, the army had occupied Alexandria, where the king was in residence at the Montaza Palace. Now plainly terrified, Farouk abandoned Montaza, and moved to Ras Al-Teen Palace on the waterfront. Naguib ordered the captain of Farouk's yacht, al-Mahrusa, not to sail without orders from the army.

Debate broke out among the Free Officers concerning the fate of the deposed king. While some (including Gen. Naguib and Nasser) viewed the best solution as to send him into exile, others argued the urge to put him on trial and even execute him for the "crimes he committed to the Egyptian people". Finally, the order came for Farouk to abdicate in favour of his son, Crown Prince Ahmed Fuad - who was acceded to the throne as King Fuad II - and a Regency Council was appointed. Departure into exile finally came on Saturday, July 26, 1952 and at 6 o'clock that evening, the king set sail for Italy with protection from the Egyptian army. On July 28, 1953, Muhammad Naguib became the first President of Egypt, which marked the beginning of modern Egyptian governance.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Demadash School of Tapestry | 1990's to Present

Artist: Abdou Demadash (1915 - 1990)
Title: Haraz Tree | Tree of Life
Material: Camel Wool
Size: 220cm x 175cm
Date: 1952
Country: Cairo, Egypt

Artist: Ali Sayed | 1945 - 2004
Title: Oasis
Material: Camel Wool
Size: 220cm x 175cm
Date: 1998
Country: Cairo, Egypt

Artist: Mohammed Ali El Sayed (son of Ali Sayed)
Title: Harnera/Village Life
Material: Camel Wool
Size: 220cm x 160cm
Date: 1998
Country: Cairo, Egypt

Artist: Mohammed Ali El Sayed (son of Ali Sayed)
Title: Alzahor/Flowers
Material: Camel Wool
Size: 220cm x 160cm
Date: 2001
Country: Cairo, Egypt

Salah Yousri Shabeeb - Mr Oscar - Born 17th September 1981

The most important person on my trip to Luxor was the driver - Salah Yoursi - Mr Oscar. He is the best kept secret in Egypt. The least I can do is share his details with you all. If you are interested in travelling in Upper Egypt be sure to contact this man.

Salah Yoursi Shabeeb - Mr Oscar
Mobile: 002. 01006563277

Friday, 23 March 2012

Azab Mohammed Said | Luxor, Egypt - Born 1960 to Present




                                  AZAB DESIGNS CREATED FROM 2000 to 2011

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sheila Nakitende | Ugandan Artist b.1983-Present

Sheila Nakitende, Ugandan Artist was born in the Kampala in 1983 - Her work below entitled, "Untitled, 2011" is up for auction next week - 13th March 2012 - This painting comes from a series of works Sheila created in 2011 to do with deconstruction and reconstruction. Breaking down the standard ideas normally associated with Contemporary African Art and moving away from commercial art for the tourists and into the world of Abstraction. 

Title: Street Queens

       Title: Mother & Child                            Title: Migration

These initial paintings in the series are more traditional and what is expected of an artist of East Africa, depicting women or girls at play or Mother and child scenarios. The most commonly seen icon of East Africa is that of women carrying jugs on their heads. Portraying woman as objects of desire, shown topless and dancing in the villages; lit only by the light of a full moon. The idea of the hard-working, down-trodden, exotic-African seems to be norm in Kampala but, as we can see, Sheila moves away from this iconography and campaigns in a new direction. Splitting up the elements of the rather dated visions of village life within the Continent and opting instead to highlight and focus in on an emerging African modernity. Sheila works her palette into a more up-to-date version of femininity in modern Africa with such wonderful optimism; one that discovers that woman are capable of intelligence; of greatness. Women working with mathematics, geometry, colour and flare. The possibilities of creating cities as architects, structural engineers and town planners. Sheila is creating a blueprint that is multi-coloured but serves as the building blocks for a brighter future, not only for women but for all Ugandans - The radical notion that women are now capable of creating their own future and even driving their own 4x4 vehicles must be something of a threat to more traditional Ugandans but the wave of change has arrived - the Airport Artists have flown and gone away and Sheila's paintings begin to display a new narrative in the East African artistic dialogue and we see women communicating in far more realistic and natural ways. Showing a different face in art, one which is multi-racial and highly cultural, the face of a truly modern Africa. These works sincerely celebrate the changing attitudes towards women but not through the eyes of the men but through the eyes of themselves with a new feminine confidence and self-belief.

To understand the make up of a National Aesthetic or series of Aesthetics take a look at what wiki says:

The next series of paintings Sheila begins to shred away from the expected in search of a place to be heard on a far grander international arena. The initial hurdle is to speak the correct visual language in order to find a receptive audience. Sheila has certainly done her homework and in the subsequent paintings we see her give birth to artworks that can be defined as Ugandan Abstraction. She cleverly plays around with the standard visual language and with her colourful ribbons, breaks-down the unhealthy stereotypical accepted customs of the Ugandan artistic practitioners and in doing so she becomes a maverick artist in the process.

Title: First Class, Middle Class

The last four paintings in the series start to play with the mere suggestion of shape and form. Using the palette in a similar style to the Abstract Expressionists of the New York School of the 1960's, with the simple push and pull effect that expresses juxtaposed colourful metaphors. Defining a new era of art in a country so famed for disaster. The palette knife has been quietly used to encourage texture telling the audience to take the rough with the smooth and judge accordingly. The subtly in these works shows the artist to have a maturity that is beyond her years. Here we see a true artist wielding her paintbrush to her canvases, as a conductor would his baton to an orchestra. This is a fantastic body of work that will be spoken about in years to come. They will be seen as the works that are the break through in regards to modern femininity in East Africa and be amongst artworks that echo a sense of purpose and direction. They are sure to be apart of a series of extraordinary moments in Contemporary African History and fall in ranks of the other great female artists in East Africa, some of whom are presently enjoying an innovative global unveiling of respect for female African artists, living and working on the Continent.