Farah Al Fardh
Paper quilling artist Farah Al Fardh is the only Arab to ever join the UK Quilling Guild and is now going to great lengths to promote this art at home and abroad
Whenever Farah Al Fardh travels overseas, she takes the UAE flag with her and a handful of Emirati figurines, that she has painstakingly crafted from paper.
‘It is my responsibility as an Emirati artist to represent the country in the best possible way,’ she says. The young artist, from Umm Al Quwain, is the first Arab to receive Certificate of Accreditation from The Quilling Guild in the UK.
But her rise to international acclaim started with a fall. In 2004, she fell down the stairs and landed with a bump. Badly twisting her ankle, she spent a month in bed and in her boredom, reached out for the nearest book. It was on the little known art of paper quilling and before long, she was twirling strips of coloured paper into shapes and patterns. Three years later, when she had mastered the art. She made little paper sheep for all her family members at Eid and people started to ask her about her art. In 2009, she launched a website about quilling and posted lessons online. She was awarded for her work and is now delighted to be recognised as the first Arab to receive accreditation from The Quilling Guild. ‘I am very proud,’ she says. ‘This art makes me feel that I am unique as an Emirati artist and as someone who represents this art in the Arab world.’
Al Fardh is now a member of four international quilling groups in the UK, USA, Japan and Holland and at home she was awarded the Shamsa Bint Suhail Award for Creative Women in 2011.
Saying her inspiration comes from images she sees in books and libraries, Al Fardh’s paper creations have recently taken a new turn in a creative art she has named as ‘Quilligraphy’. ‘I have introduced Arabic Quilligraphy, a mix of quilling and calligraphy, and it has been well received by fans.’
This art makes me feel that I am unique as an Emirati artist
Quilligraphy involves taking the thin paper strips and rolling them into the shapes of letters to form words and images with letters. It is an extra element to her work that Al Fardh considers to be extremely therapeutic and relaxing. She tells a story about her nephew: ‘He used to be a notorious troublemaker and everyone was afraid of handling him. One Friday I offered to take care of him and my aunt was surprised that she did not receive a single phone call during the day about him. As soon as she arrived in the evening, she asked, “Did something happen?” I told her that I gave her son two pieces of shredded paper and asked him to roll them. He kept rolling from morning till evening without a word and made some things to show his mother.’
So, the ancient art of rolling paper that is thought to have begun as far back as the 13th century, is having a new lease of life thanks to this young artist.
‘I am so happy about that,’ she smiles. ‘It is an amazing art and one that I want to teach everyone about.’
‘In the UAE people are surprised when I tell them that I am from Umm Al Quwain, because for them it is strange that a girl from there is bold enough to appear on TV and travel around the world to spread her art, but I am proud of my heritage, Umm Al Qawain is a beautiful and quiet city with lovely beaches.’
‘Outside of the UAE I don’t mention which city I belong to unless I am specifically asked. I am an Emirati and I represent the UAE, that is all that matters.’