In Conversation with Sarya Jamal

INTERVIEW with Artist/Designer SARYA JAMALof “Pieces of Me” (POM)

1. When did painting start for Sarya Jamal?
I am a Pharmacist by degree but an artist at heart. Ever since I was a little girl painting has been a hobby of mine. Painting is where I spend my alone time to clear out my thoughts. It allows me to both, find & loose myself. Growing up, I used to love colouring and making pictures from cut outs of coloured paper. I later grew out of this and turned to painting, on everything from paper & cardboard to easter eggs. I never took my hobby seriously until I was 15 years old and chose art as one of my IGCSE subjects while doing my O’Leves. During my 2-year art course I experimented with pencil drawings, still life, silk painting and other different painting mediums (water,oil and acrylic) but by the time I graduated I still had no idea which was my strongest creative outlet. After graduation (IGCSE from the British International School of Jeddah) in Saudi Arabia, I moved to Sudan to pursue a BSc of Pharmacy and didn’t have the time to pick up a paint brush until i was one year away from graduating University.

2. How did you start painting on chairs?
Believe it or not, I stumbled across painting on chairs by accident. During my final year in University I began doodling a lot – releasing my academic stress in my old empty sketchbook. On several occasions, I was pleasantly surprised with my doodle outcomes and decided to take them for constructive criticism to some very talented artists at a small local art gallery in Khartoum, Sudan. These guys really encouraged me to get back to my hobby and motivated me to manage my time between studying for finals and painting during breaks. I guess I was creatively constipated because I ended up doing just that & two short months later I had my first art exhibition in Khartoum where I displayed 10 pieces of black ink doodles on canvas. Four of my artworks were sold and that is when my artistic journey truly began. I was amazed by the talents I had met and decided to join these exceptional & under rated artists at their gallery more often to watch, learn & get inspired. In Sudan, since the economy is in crisis, art supplies are either too expensive or unavailable and so, artists have no choice but to think outside the box and resort to other creative solutions like painting with coffee beans or charcoal, and using newspaper, glass or tyres instead of canvas. I was so inspired and decided to also experiment with different mediums and give my black ink pens a break. Before I knew it I found myself falling in love with painting on wood. Painting on wood creates really raw textures that I was very fond of and I found myself layering these textures continuously to create new ones. Soon, I was ready to show off some pieces but was hesitant on how these painted blocks/pallets of wood would be received. That is when I decided to create wood that is functional instead of canvas. Something that would look like art on display but could also be used. From there,the idea of designing wooden chairs & tables to use as my canvases was born.

3. How do you find your muse when painting?
I don’t think I look for, or particularly find a specific muse while painting. I believe the muse can come in a variety of ways and visits during the process of creating my pieces, I don’t wait for a muse, I start alone and everything falls into place. I guess it’s an inner intuition, a breakthrough to be able to move ahead and create something but I am still yet to point my finger to and specify how I find my painting muse. It is very personal and difficult to describe unlike inspiration. Inspiration is simply everywhere.

4. What is your favourite hangout spot.
I am definitely a beach girl. I love laying on the beach watching the sun gaze at its reflection in the water and waves brush the shore. I love feeling the sand between my toes and sun on my skin. I enjoy the beach both alone with a good read or with a group of friends! If in the city, I love hanging out on rooftops! There’s something so inspiring about being able to look at your city from a birds eye view.

5. How did you manage a full time job & painting.
This is so simple. Before embarking on my POM journey, my full time job at a health insurance company (BUPA) was stressful not to mention a tedeous killer routine. When ever I came home, I was stressed and mentally exhausted. The only thing that made me unwind from all of this was a cold shower, a cup of tea, my iTunes list & most importantly, a paint brush. It was defiantly hectic in the beginning but proved to be well worth the trouble once I established my brand. Painting and preparing for exhibitions never feels like a second or part time job to me. I really enjoy it and can paint for hours non stop no breaks. Coming home from work to paint excited me rather than stressed me out. It is exactly what I looked forward to after a long day. After successful exhibitions in several cities including Jeddah, Riyadh, Bahrain, London & Khartoum I decided to take a year off work to focus on a line of artistic hand painted furniture. I learned doing what you love truly pays off & now not going to Art school will always be one of my biggest regrets!

6. When you are not painting, what do you do?
When I’m not painting I’m spending quality time with my 7 year old. We love swimming and watching movies. I also enjoy a good game of chess and trying new dishes in the kitchen. I have a new found passion for cooking but as much as I love eating desserts I can never seem to perfect them in the kitchen. I guess you can call me a wannabe baker. I would definatly say I’m a social person and I’m always up for something spontaneous with friends. I.m a taurus and a daydreamer who believes in miracles.

7. What inspires each collection of your production.
My artworks are dictated by my moods/emotions but the inspiration behind each of my pieces comes from one of two things. First and foremost, my vibrant African culture/heritage and secondly, the unmatched masterpieces of art found in our very own mother nature. Despite the poverty in Sudan, it is very rich terms of creativity & colour. The colourful saris worn by our women, the traditional henna on ladies hands & feet, the hand woven furniture made of colourful plastic ropes, the painted wooden boats that get you across the Nile are just a few examples of the things inspire me at home. As for art in nature that gets me going, the list is endless; patterns/scales on a fish, the stripes on a tiger or watermelon, the colours on flower petals, the seeds in a kiwi, the shapes of seahorse & starfish, the clouds in the sky, the viens on leaf, peacock feathers and the colours under the sea are just a few examples of Art that is unparalleled. It is impossible to gaze at planet earth & not be inspired! I simply cannot get over the art created by our own creator! I am forever inspired.

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