The Start Project: Layal Abdullah

Through the Christmas holidays, we were challenged with reinterpreting the ideas of a fellow students’ from their blog. I was given the blog of Layal Abdullah, another second year Art student at the University of Reading. For more information about any of her works, please visit the above link. Within this blog post, I have put several words and phrases in bold, as I feel these encaspulate her work of this term, and helped me to concentrate when designing and producing a piece to reinterpret her ideas.
I was able to view the projects and works that she has taken part in throughout the autumn term of second year, including the Summer Project and an Artist Presentation.

“My art work is all liked to my past in Yemen and all tell the devastating story of the on going war in Yemen.”

Tania Bruguera was the artist that Abdullah linked to within the summer project coming into second year, as she felt ass though she connected strongly with her ideaology on art as well as the political influences that Bruguera had. Abdullah looked primarily at the piece ‘Surplus value’, and found the historical journey of the concentration camps to be interesting. These went from labour camps, through to concentration camps and then execution camps.
This was then transferred into three stages of Yemen through her own artwork. The first stage was when Yemen was safe and stable, and representaed rich beauty, however soon began its first stages of political instability and protests. The final, and current stage is the civil war, which began in 2014 and has killed over 40,000 people and displaced over 3.15 million. This all began because of an election vote for a new president, which turned into a political rebelion by the young and uneducated generation, which then lead to the civil war. Abdullah then layered three images of her own which represented each of these times. Playing around with this layering, she was able to show the story of how the war came about through the visibility of each image.
Abdullah then looked into the Balqis Residence, Dubai, which is a residential area on Palm Island with buildings built in the traditional Yemeni architectural style. This is improtant personally for Abdullah as she has found that Yemen is no longer known for its beauty, however it is still being remembered and captured worldwide.
A visit to MERL (Museum of English Rural Life, Reading) was then described where she explored rural English table traditions and focused on the comparison to todays table traditions. She was able to link some of these traditions to around the world including that of Yemen and Morrocco.
‘The Dinner Party’ was then designed and created by a group of students, including Abdullah. They were interested in combining three different ideas:
1. Interested in interpreting positive/negative features of life on a farm. Good food with bad noises, and bad food with good noises.
2. Combining cultures.
3. Edible plates (?).
Making the piece more interactive was also a key part of this project, and the artists decided to make the participants use gloves and different utensils, including that of farming tools and chopsticks, to ‘eat’. There was also heavy research into Persian, African, Chinese, Japanese and Italian plates. These were smashed up to make more unique and jumbled plates and glasses. Audio was played on headphones for the final showing of the piece.
Abdullah also completed a group project of an artists presentation on Yayoi Kusama, whose artwork includes primarily polka dots and net motifs. Kusama’s work also highlights psychedelic colours through the use of repetition and pattern. Kusama influenced pop art minimalist and feminist art movements. Her mother was physically abusive and her father would often cheat, which put her off of sex and men for a long time. At age 10, she began to experience hallucinations, especially that of dots and flowers that spoke to her. This is when she began to cover surfaces with polka dots. For their presentation, Abdullah and the group made people read out facts that were on polka dots, and stick them on the wall. Th participants were then able to recreate similar artwork without actually viewing the work of Kusama themselves.
Immersive experiences was then highlighted within Abdullah’s blog, hinting at the notes of sound, visuals, scale, breaking barriers between the artwork and the viewer, the viewer activating and completing the work, and an alternative focus or perspective. This lead her to look at surrealism and immersive experiences.
There was a large influence from a visit to the V&A museum, London, in which photos concentrated on tables, circle paintings, decorative pottery, flowers and religious meanings. For the formative assessment, Abdullah also looked further into Rachel Whiteread, with her piece ‘house’, cast in concrete and Ilya Kabakov, who created wide scale installations of propoganda posters.
Abdullah recreated one of the tables from the V&A, and linked it back to her own culture from Yemen. This piece was to look at the beauty and the culture, while newspapers new to it looked at the war and destruction. Three architectural sites were chosen and created with mixed media. Geometric patterns that were included on the table were inspired by the stain glass windows, which were a signature of Yemen’s architecture. Flowers were also added to symbolise mans beauty and also the natural beauty that was held in Yemen. Arabic religious text allowed her faith to show throughout the piece. All of this was diplayed on the floor, along with pillows and throws holding traditional patterns from home, Yemen.

3 thoughts on “The Start Project: Layal Abdullah

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