Exploring Ebru painting in Qatar

 16 Oct 2016 - 10:47

Exploring Ebru painting in Qatar
Artist Sana Hassan explaining the basic techniques of Ebru Art.

By Amna Pervaiz Rao | The Peninsula

Art in some form or another has existed as long as man. It is a part of our daily lives and is present in cultures across the world. Most people have an appreciation for art. They enjoy observing or creating it. Art is integral in our culture because it provides us with a deeper understanding of emotions, self-awareness, and more.

“Ebru art is one of the kinds of art in which only patterns are made in marbling. Ebru is slightly different. You create things with the help of ebru, it looks like a reflection and you can’t create faces with the help of ebru art,” said Sana Hussan while talking to The Peninsula.

Ebru is a traditional Turkish art of paper decoration by spreading paints, which do not dissolve in water, with brushes made of horse hair and rose wood on dense water that is thickened by gum-tragacanth. 

The word Ebru origin comes from Persian language (Ebri-eyebrow or Ab-ru-face of water) and Ebru in Turkish which means marbling. It isn’t known exactly when or where Ebru art started but the early examples are from the 16th century in the Ottoman-Turkish era and spread from the east to the west by way of Silk Road and other trade routes same as like paper.

The technique is relaxing itself it is simple but one should be very cautioned, Ebru technique consists of sprinkling colours containing a few drops of ox-gall onto the surface of the bath of water mixed with kitre (gum tragacanth) in a trough. By carefully laying the paper over the bath, the floating picture on top of it is readily transferred to the paper; thus each Ebru is a unique print. To obtain beautiful Ebru results, one needs to have a light hand, refined taste and an open mind to the unexpected patterns forming on the water, said Ebru expert Sana Hassan explaining the basic techniques of Ebru Art.

After completing her secondary and higher secondary education from Doha, Sana pursued a degree in Fashion Designing from ITMF, Pakistan. She reminisces, “Back then, we would be taken to art exhibitions. At one event, I was standing by myself and noticed an old lady staring at my hands. ‘You know, you should do something with art. You will do well,’” she said. “It felt a little weird but that line stayed with me. The lady was right." 

After returning to Doha, Sana continued with her studies while working for a recruitment company. “I had tried my hand at marbling during my student years at ITMF, and was exploring everything I came across — from candle-making to textile-printing. I would even create art and gift them to friends and family,” she says.

Soon Sana got married and moved to Saudi Arabia, and she somewhat lost touch with her artistic side. After three years there, a job opportunity in Qatar for Sana’s husband meant that the family moved to Doha.

“It was nearly two years ago that I hit restart,” Sana says, “When I would meet my old friends and acquaintances here, they would ask me what was I doing these days and I would be kind of blank. I sensed restlessness within me. I knew I had to do return to art.”

While Sana had tried her hand at ancient art such as Babylonian art and Egyptian art, Islamic Art captured her imagination like no other. “That’s because in Islamic art, you don’t make faces, and also figures are conveyed as mere reflections. The fact that I had to follow this rule seemed very interesting,” said Sana.

Plans of destiny I would say, art was always my passion. My parents and siblings were supportive throughout, without parents it was never possible. Now my husband is my backbone,” said Sana.

Sharing a funny incident, she said: “My art teacher always used to take all my paintings and drawing I used to draw in my second grade. She used to submit it in different competitions herself. One day I received an award from Qafco Flower and Vegetable Show. My father was overwhelmed looking at that award, as he used to work for the same company. Such moments are evergreen in my life.”

Sana said that she had recently participated in “World Record of Ebru Patch Work”. “I was the only Pakistani participant representing Qatar. This was one of my biggest achievements,” said Sana. “Fifth World’s Ebru Day is going to be marked with an event of seven days, during which I will be able to showcase my work and a great opportunity will be given to work with world famous Ebru Art artists. I am very much positive to participate in this event,” added Sana.

“My teaching career will continue with the classes I bestow in VCU. These classes are especially designed to make people relax, as in special medication for the people who want to take off from all their worries and stress. I will make a studio in my home for all those people who want to learn Ebru Art, regular classes will be provided,” said Sana while sharing her future plans. 

Apart from working as an artist, she loves to help others. With housewives and her friends, she designs plans for them either they are related to designing a boutique or anything else. “I like to see people walking with me,” she says with a streak of satisfaction in her tune. She says that the motive behind her art-teaching activity was meant to save her falling prey to sense of artificial pride and arrogance. “I simply love social working and will definitely continue helping others in all possible ways,” said Sana Hassan.