Cactuses 60x25cm 2015
Pantry at a Syrian house 40x80cm
Coneflower 25.4x20.3cm
Vine leaf tree 45.5x33cm

     All paintings are acrylic on canvas

I have always loved art, all forms of art: drawing, painting, music and dance and this was evident from an early age, when even as young as six or seven when I wanted to show my drawings and paintings to everyone.

 

I had started drawing with pencils and quickly discovered that I could produce a huge range of shades of ‘colours’ even with just one grade of pencil. From there, I moved via pastel crayons to gouache and later acrylic on canvas making full use of all the colours at my disposal.

 

So it was a natural progression to study art and graphic design at the University of Damascus (Faculty of Fine Arts), graduating with a BA in Fine Art and Graphic Design in 1994. 

 

I have always been mesmerised and captivated by the beauty of nature, through which I have felt most truly connected to the vibrancy of life. I love to draw and paint nature anywhere – in the wild outdoors, in the warmth of the kitchen, even from my own photographs in the studio.

 

Perhaps it was my birthplace, the beautiful city of Tartous, which instilled in me this love of our planet’s bountiful offerings. My city gave me all of nature’s beauty: its blue mountains, its lush, verdant hills were inspirational sources from which to paint.

 

Then there is the sea, which I truly love. I would sit for hours on end watching it, absorbing everything: its sounds, its smells, its waves, its shores and rocks all made me more creative and adventurous in what I painted.

 

In childhood, there were regular weekend trips to the island of Arwad, from where my father’s family originated. As we crossed the seas, I would stare over the side of the boat through the crystal clear waters at a richly coloured underwater garden of rocks and gently swaying seaweeds. Siblings and cousins swam freely in a blue-green palette, from midnight blue to aquamarine to mysterious jade. These sights affected me greatly from a young age and encouraged my experimentation with colour.

 

My father’s love of the great outdoors and of hunting trips, on which at times I would accompany him in my youth, taught me to put on paper exactly what I saw to maximum effect. It is to him I owe my own love of the sea and the outdoors.

 

Even in the home, colours played an important part in my early paintings. Jars, big and small, full of pickled vegetables and compotes, in water or oils, produced a wild variety of colour and texture. The fruits and vegetables that would be hung outside in the sun formed weirdly different shapes and took on intense depths of pigmentation as they dried. All of this lives on in my mind to this day.

 

When I moved to England, I fell in love with the colours of berries – raspberries and blackberries, in particular – and of lavender. Walking through fields of lavender or between rows and rows of raspberry canes packed with ripening fruits, gazing at their subtle hues and tones, is a truly superb and enriching experience. For me, these are the particularly loved colours of my new home; somehow they bring out the creative best in me.

 

And they connect me, by the thread of colour, to my home city. I hold dear everything that is authentic and keeps me connected to my birthplace.

 

For the artist who has been blessed with the gift, but who by circumstance and fate has been distanced from her art and talent, there comes a day when what has been suppressed must erupt in a positive flow of creativity. She is re-energised to express herself freely again, to follow her heart’s desire and to reach for her ultimate goal, which is finally to show in full her love of life through her art.

 

                                                                                                                                                                              Hiba Sabra