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Jordanian artist reflects Kingdom’s long astronomical history in sundial piece

By Maria Weldali - Oct 18,2022 - Last updated at Oct 18,2022

AMMAN — Jordanian artist Nahla Tabbaa depicts instances of time through her series of gestural drawings which act as sundials in Warehouse421’s “On Foraging: Food Knowledge and Environmental Imaginaries in the UAE’s Landscape” exhibition.

The series, called “I Sit Under Your Shade”, captures the essence of stillness, thereby documenting “an intangible language, and an ancient construct of time”, according to Abu Dhabi’s home-grown Warehouse421.

Tabbaa, who is described by Warehouse421 as an artist whose work delves into the tensions between the urban and the organic, shows a static way of time passage through the sun’s reflection on “a chosen tree”, capturing the various expressions of botanical mysticism and spiritual ecological surroundings, through choosing certain spots that get plenty of sunshine, giving a strong sense of drama.

The artist’s artwork also reflects the Kingdom’s long astronomical history and its interest in the earliest known timekeeping device, the sundial.

The passage of time in Tabbaa’s artwork is expressed in its components. Time can be seen through the shadows the sunlight created throughout the day, which in a way make her work reminiscent of how people kept track of time before clocks, using charcoal and graphite on canvas.

The methods the artist utilises are slow-paced and meditative, according to Warehouse421.

“For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that my relationship with trees is both intense and so nuanced, it’s where I heal the most but where I’ve felt the most uncomfortable…” the Jordanian artist wrote on her Instagram account.

Mays Albaik, the programme manager at Warehouse421, told The Jordan Times that Tabbaa has taken a particular interest in how people can coexist with nature in harmony and in a conscious way that makes them realise the intrinsic worth of land.

Albaik added that the artist will lead a Warehouse421 workshop titled “How to Sit Under a Tree” which will explore plants that characterise Mina Zayed.

“Art is positioned to move people, to incite countless important questions within us and to provoke curiosity,” she said.

“’On Foraging’ explores the nuances of what it means to be in constant search of sustenance for both the individual and the collective,” said a Warehouse421 regarding the exhibition, which will run until December 25.


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