I was born in Cairo in 1977. I went to a German school in Cairo. I studied fashion in Paris. Back to Cairo I created my own line of clothing “Ingy Kubbara” and taught fashion design at Helwan University-Faculty of applied arts. I moved to London with my husband in 2008 and was blessed with my first child 6 months ago. I will be going back to Cairo by the end of this year.
In three words describe your intentions for the graduate show?
My intention is to present artwork that I feel strongly about. Work that is authentic, passionate and truly represents me.
Can you describe your work, your process and the vision you have for your exhibition space?
My work represents me in connection to my beloved country, Egypt. Being away from home, experiencing different cultures, I was having mixed feelings of appreciation, sorrow and frustration; I felt a need to show my country in a different light, emphasise it’s lost glory and express a hope for the future it deserves. These were the thoughts that inspired my artwork which can be divided into three parts.
First the paintings in which I used the classical pharaohs’ images in a new unfamiliar way and mixed it with abstract designs. The former representing the past and the abstract shape is the future.
The second part of my work is a triptych of Tahrir Square, in Cairo, during the revolution. In these paintings I used simple lines to show the crowd and added an abstract shape in one of the paintings to represent myself; a pregnant woman, awaiting birth and stranded away from my country, my shadow lurks in the scene while I anxiously watch. Each painting pictures a different moment in the square, with its heated sentiments and challenges. I felt a mixture of figurative, abstract and design was artistically appealing and best articulates the emotionally charged moments.
The final part of my work consists of eight collages. Each one of them tells a story that connects me to Egypt; it’s about my memories as a child, my pregnancy and the revolution.
Being pregnant while a revolution was going on in Egypt made me feel that my country and I were about to experience a new beginning. I’m going to give birth to a child while my country is in the process of being reborn as a new nation.
I started my work brainstorming, taking notes, exploring my feelings and sketching images in pencil. Usually whenever I start a new project I envision how it would look like and start sketching accordingly. Then I begin to work in colour and add that to my sketches. I next make trials on canvas and only when I’m satisfied with the results I start to work on a final painting. Ideally I would have liked my space to be a U shape so I can hang each part of my work on one wall. I wanted to direct the viewer as to where to start and where to exit. I wanted the space to feel like I’m telling a story of the past, the present and the future.
Are you pleased with the way it’s coming together?
I’m very pleased with the way it’s coming together because I feel that the work resonates with important events in my life and I feel strongly about the subject. Although preparing for the exhibition while pregnant then caring for a baby was quite a challenge, I’m very happy and proud I’m finally taking part in it.
What’s proving to be the most difficult part about preparations?
To my surprise working on the paintings is not the difficult part for me unlike planning and marketing the show. That’s the part I don’t find easy probably because it takes up much time and energy when I just want to concentrate on the artwork.
What one piece is closest to representing everything you want to say?
Actually two pieces of my collages are really close to my heart. They both represent me and what I want to say about the past, present and future of Egypt.
The first image is from my memory as a child. My father used to take me to the pyramids to fly kites there. I remember it was always in the evenings after my dad came back from work during summertime so the weather would be cool, and it was quiet, peaceful and beautiful. This is the Egypt I want back and this is the country I hope to raise my child in. Nowadays signs of poverty mark the magical scene, slums in the distance while exploitation and deprivation characterises the lives of many. Poverty is devouring the culture, the people and the landscape. I wish one day I can go back to the pyramids and fly kites with my son and give him the magical experience I once had.
The other piece also reminds me of my childhood. My grandma used to have pigeons in her house and my sister and I went to play with them. I still remember the smell and sound of them and how we watched them fly away and then come back to my grandma’s window. This piece is about a pigeon that wants to be free in her own home, awaits tomorrow and dreams of a brighter future.
What would you as a 15 year old think of what you are doing now?
As a 15 year old I will be enjoying what I’m doing now very much. I will stop for some moments and observe what I’m doing with a critical eye but I will go back and continue what I love doing. Working on the pieces didn’t feel like hard work for me others.Some pieces were more difficult than others but a big part of my work came naturally to me. So, I will be critical of my work but having fun painting and working at the same time.
What is the question you find hardest to answer when it comes to your artwork?
One question I always have difficulty answering is why I painted something a certain way? Or why an artwork turned out that way? I struggle in answering these questions because I often work out of a feeling and I don’t have an explanation so I have to think about it to come up with the answer.
What do you want to be doing artistically in 5 years?
In the coming years I want to continue painting. I want to keep on experimenting until I find my own style and what I’m really artistically good and confident with. I feel that this show is a step towards reaching an individual style so I definitely want to carry on.
I want to be doing exhibitions in Cairo and hopefully be able to sell my artwork.
What artist intrigues you at the moment?
He was a prominent Egyptian painter. He studied fine arts in Egypt and in Europe. He won many awards in Egypt and abroad and also exhibited in the many countries around world.
10. What work of art has moved you the most?
“The road to Tahrir” 2012 is a painting by the renowned Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla. I liked this painting a lot because it reminded me of the first days of the revolution in 2011 when I used to watch the news all day. It’s exactly the image I used to see on TV with the scenery of Cairo in the background. It captures the essence of the revolution.
Who is the person whose opinions on your artwork you care about the most? And what do you think they’ll say when they see your show?
My mother and my younger brother are the two people I care about their opinions the most. They are both very creative and they both paint. My mum knows me very well and she is very positive so she will have constructive criticism. And my brother is a rebellious young guy who will speak his mind and be very honest about his criticism. They both saw part of my work already and they liked some pieces very much and were not sure of others but in general I guess they will like the show and they will be proud of me that I took part in it.
What do you think you have got from the Art Academy that you might not have got from another college?
What I liked about the Art Academy is the long hours of practice. Going in the morning to a class in which I will be just painting till the end of the day was very enjoyable. Some classes where more difficult than others but I had very helpful and supportive tutors who directed me in a very positive way and gave me constructive criticism. Although we had a program for each class the tutors were flexible and allowed us to experiment as well. The small coffee breaks during the day allowed me to look at my colleagues work and learn from them and at the same time made me interact with everybody.
Being at the Art Academy I got the chance to be tutored by artists who are also successful in the art world. Because we are a small group at the Art Academy it felt like a family where everybody is ready to help and support one another.
I have to say that I was very happy to be at the Art Academy because it was exactly what I was searching for.
The Art Academy Graduate Show 2012 opens on Wednesday 11th July and runs from Thursday 12th – Sunday 15th 11.30am – 7pm.