Khyameya Art by Nazir Tanbouli: the relationship between art and craft

As a British Egyptian artist I can see both the permanent Egyptian in me, and the influence wrought by years of living and studying in the UK and working in Europe. Both Egypt and Britain are reflected in my work. And I am interested to explore that relationship in my own work and then to reveal that work to the Egyptian and British audience. I intend to do this through exploring traditional Egyptian hand craft in contemporary art.

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I am working with traditional textile-craft makers (above, traditional designs) to develop unique art works based on my drawings and paintings. kha2

An ancient Egyptian textile handicraft developed by Egyptian tent-makers, Khyameya is a traditional blind stitch patchwork technique. Here above is my painting turned into a hand crafted textile tapestry using the Khyameya technique.

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Everything is done by hand, from my drawing to the hand stitching. Here is the craftsman making the second piece.

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Combining my contemporary art of drawing and painting with the ancient traditional Egyptian craft, both invigorates and preserves the craft, and imbues the art with  unique quality.

The craftsmen are all in one place: Khyameya Street in Old Cairo. In English this is “Street of the Tentmakers” since the Khyameya were made as tents – used for hosting weddings, street parties and festivals and generally as ceremonial fancy shades from the hot Egyptian sun. Now like everywhere else, folk art and craft have been forced out by cheap Chinese products. But some people are not happy with that and I am one of them. I want to work with the craftsmen of Old Cairo and Alexandria to create new designs using old techniques, art works  that are 100% hand made – both modern and ancient.

I have made several pieces now  – 3 tapestries and 1 kilim. Later this year I will be in Egypt creating more, eventually I hope to create huge tent murals. Long live culture!

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About nazirtanbouli

British-Egyptian artist Nazir Tanbouli works in drawing, painting, book art and mural. He is based in London.
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