'Ideation is what makes an artist'

Passing By

'Ideation is what makes an artist'

Browsing around the Dastkari Haat Samiti's craft bazaar in Dilli Haat one comes across Ramy Mohamed Hassan scurrying around the Egyptian corner, answering queries, elaborating over the traditional art and crafts from Egypt, a welcoming smile creasing his face. 

A design manager from Cairo, 28-year-old Ramy, is managing a team of 13, spanning four stalls . An artisan of some standing Ramy has exhibited his collections in Frankfurt, Paris, and has a handicraft store in Madrid.
 “These wall hangings are made of pharaohic cotton, the 3,000-year-old famous cotton from Egypt,” says Ramy introducing the visitors to the textile section. Excitedly he elaborates on the designs, taking us through the sketches of dervishes, the symbolic pharoah’s (Ancient Egyptian ruler) eyes, and an image of a woman draped in a scarf with colours from Egyptian flag. He stops by to hold a calligraphic hanging in his hand: “Touch the letters on this hanging, its Sermi, an Egyptian embroidery done with golden and silver threads. Telli, another form of design made on scarves and shawls is also very characteristically Egyptian,” says the young artisan who earned a degree in Fine Arts before studying MBA from American University of Cairo.
 Refraining from designing all the samples for the network of 1000 artisans working under him, he explains, “Ideation is what makes an artist, if my artisans didn’t think on their own, they would become machines.”

On his first visit to India, he says, “Let’s talk logical, India has its very own unique culture, we cannot be exporting our traditional products here; whereas handicrafts have a huge value abroad as everything comes machine-made in those countries.”   “Being in the centre gives us a geographical advantage over India as our products can be shipped for lesser costs to European countries,” he says.

To understand how the revolution that started from Cairo’s Tahrir Square influenced the artists in Egypt, the artist reluctantly reveals, “My art finds inspiration from the beautiful landscape of upper Egypt where I find quiet locales to de-stress. It is the Roman era monuments and coastal imageries of Alexandria that motivate me to design.”

Quickly changing the ‘sensitive’ subject, he caresses his stomach in jest and tells us, “Indian food contains sugar and spices, both towards the maximum extent. Ours is milder, a little more compared to the European tastes, a little less than Indian.”  Taken in by the elephant trunk, a recurrent motif in Indian designs, he asks us what it is? It was the image of Lord Ganesha that fascinated the artist the most. 

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