Tag: Art

block 338

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook.




Editing these pictures reminded me of the feeling I got walking from the parking lot into the squares of Block 338, Adliya in Bahrain. It truly is a treat for sore eyes, with colour, landscaping and art at every turn. The focus of the planning is on the pedestrian’s experience, with ample parking spaces at the edges and side roads of the district and continuous pedestrian space thereafter – loved it!

My cousin Seif was driving us somewhere I can’t remember now, but decided to take a detour for ‘a few minutes’ stating, ‘Fatma, you’ll love this place’. What was supposed to be a thirty minute walk-through turned into a one and a half hour excursion into sunset. I bet you my cousins wanted to drag me away, because if you know me and my animated mind even flowers and fallen leaves are a photogenic affair.

The walls are covered in art by local artists, not restricted to just paintings but sculptures of varying scales too. Not understanding much about the Bahrain culture and politics, a few pieces seemed to have a deeper meaning, a statement of sorts, which made me question what the artist’s message truly was. For example, these cute houses all falling into a blue bin by Ali Hussein Merza. Is this a message about the abundant social housing around Bahrain? I loved their housing! But probably it was a political message I need to look into a bit more to understand. And then the ethereal paintings against black walls by an unnamed artist. On a lighter note, cartoon looking characters and random positive messages in corners were a sweet surprise. Artistic freedom in its most evident form, in my opinion. Everyone’s style is so different, and each one has qualities that are admirable and for an artist to share their work it takes courage – I respect that. Makes me think that’s how life should be – we all have something unique to contribute and that’s one of the beauties of life – the variety.

Speaking of sweet surprises, the district seems to comprise mostly of the cutest restaurants – street after street. I wish I had time to pop by each and every one as each had its own distinct character. It’s always a great idea to see and try to understand new things we come across – to soak up how other creatives interpret space and interiors. The interesting thing is although each building had it’s own character, they all seem to marry well together, forming a balanced yet eclectic mix.

I’ve mentioned before how one of my favourite things is art galleries with integrated coffee-shop/  restaurants. Well, the Al Riwaq Gallery was a page out of my fantasy art gallery mood board. I had the pleasure of interviewing Wafa al Ghatam who is a research architect currently having an exhibition at the gallery titled, ‘The Village in the City’, while I was there which I’ll share in the next post on here. I got to interact with a few other creatives and lady architects in that short period. They recommended that I try the peach iced tea from the gallery’s cafè which seems to be a hit with the customers. Peach iced tea, need I say more? (I loved it).

Not too far from Block 338 are more ‘traditional’ stores selling Persian carpets, oriental scarves, dresses and basically the ‘old school’ Arab experience. Oh and the best darn shawarma/ malghoum shops too, at a great bargain. Cravings!

Also, I feel like I’ve said gallery too much. Need to dust off a few books and grow my writing skills further.

Favourite pilgrim spots at 338?

Al-Riwaq Art Space (pictures coming up in a separate post).
Florence de Mediteranee, which is the cutest French restaurant at the edge of the district (also coming up in a post. Need to get more hours in my day!)
And uhm, basically the whole place! Wish I had more time to explore 🙂

Google maps location pin here.

Useful links to check out when visiting Bahrain:

Bahrain Authority for Culture and Authenticity.

Visit Bahrain.

Time Out Bahrain.

Take me back already, yah? 🙂

know your artist | kangarui

Preamble. Lol.

When I first started this blog (still can’t get used to this word) writing on here, I had a vision and I wasn’t quite sure if it would ever come into fruition. See, in life, you can have a dream but if you don’t work, then it will just be an idea stuck your head. And some times, most times, you will have to wait, to grow, to a level where you can make this dream come true. It starts with preparation.

The main aim of my website is to have a space where whoever is reading can leave feeling lighter, or inspired in some way. (And hopefully in the process read every single one of my posts, like and share with their friends and get the word going *grin*). Other than posting lifestyle articles, I really wanted to have a space to share art. Not just my own, but sort of have a database on here about inspiring artists. People who I feel I can look up to, learn from, and in turn spread the word about their wonderful work.

I’d sketch in my notebooks endless times, and keep writing down lists of goals but I’d never really followed through. I had so many excuses, my biggest one being that I didn’t have a camera and I wasn’t great at Photoshop. It all came down to self doubt. With time, I’ve stopped making too many excuses and have just decided to make the most of what I have, which is my phone. And the biggest blessing God has given me, my brain.

I finally have the courage to take small steps towards making this vision coming true, so let’s see where it goes 🙂 I guess I’ll call this series ‘Know your artist’, where I will have a chat with the artist, take a few pictures and share what inspires me, with you all. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I do.

The first artist I will feature is Rui of Kangarui. I randomly found her page one of those nights where you can’t fall asleep because you’re craving more out of life. In such moments, I find myself going through beautiful imagery until my eyes get itchy, then I know it’s time to turn in. I scrolled for what seemed like hours until I got to the end of her page. My mind was processing this imagery and thinking, ‘Wow. This is a Kenyan brand. A lady owns it, and she has turned her art into a business’. I could see the passion in her work and so I said to myself, ‘I have to meet her’.

We met this past Sunday at an art x fashion pop up at Art Cafe Westgate, she was kind and humble but in a hurry because her dad was visiting from Japan and so she only had a short while to spare. I promised to take only ten minutes of her time, and at the 10 minute 41 second mark we were done. I’m so grateful for her taking the time to chat, looking forward to our next meeting. Here’s the result of our chat 🙂

My questions are in bold and her responses underneath.


Where are you from?

I am from a lot of places because I grew up in different countries but I consider myself Japanese-Kenyan. I grew up in Kenya, moved to Nakuru first when I was four and lived there for about seven years. Both my parents are Japanese.

Where did you get your formal education from?

I went to a design school in England, where I trained as a graphic designer.

In that case, how did you get into art? Your work looks like water colour and mixed media.

I’m a web designer by profession, which is very digital. I wanted to get away from that, and at the time I was living in a small town in Germany. I wouldn’t call myself a painter, but I would buy different fabrics and experiment with mixed media, stamps, painting and linocuts. I love photography as well so I started playing with collages and thought, ‘Hmm, they work well together’. It was very colourful and all about animals because, I guess, I’d started to miss Kenya. It had been about ten years since I’d left Kenya, and that’s how it all started.

Most souvenir shops have similar pieces and hopefully, I’m bringing something new and fresh. The art scene is really growing in Kenya, and it’s great to have diversity. Kenya is more than just ‘kitenge’ and the stereotypical pieces. I want to produce things that are good quality in a modern style, and made in Kenya!

*Fatma high fives at this point and gets all giddy about girl power and the Kenyan art scene growing*

How long have you been working as an artist?

I wouldn’t call myself an artist because this is something I started two years ago as a hobby on the side but I officially launched this brand March 2016.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I like to work out. To be with friends, to travel. I think traveling is the best thing but you need time for that. And I love food, so I eat a lot!

Where do you find inspiration?

My work is all about positive energy. I’m trying to bring out the beauty of Kenya in my art, and express it to not only Kenyans but also people around the world. Spread the good vibes.

*Another giddy, giggly, classic Fatma high-five*

What challenges have you faced?

So many! Every single day. The latest one was packaging of my products.

I think you’ve done a great job.

The challenge is after your product is done and you have to package it for a hundred pieces. You may hire people to help you out, but if you don’t explain properly or if you hire the wrong person you don’t get the right outcome. Sometimes you wish you had three bodies to do everything yourself!

What advice would you give to upcoming artists who want to make a business out of their talents?

Go for it! Just start 🙂

Technical aspects? Do I have to make a financial plan? How do you proceed from the drawing board to a business?

My way was very simple. I had a collection of art work and some American companies liked them, so they carried my products but I would get minimal returns for my work. I had to identify a different market, and so I decided to produce my own work. I went through many manufacturers, and once I found a match they started producing my pieces. I don’t have a financial plan yet, but I’m getting on it. I’m just currently using my savings to run the business. The sales aren’t covering all the costs yet since it’s fairly new, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Life is all about taking risks, right? You can always dream about something but if you don’t take action it’s never going to happen. If it doesn’t work out, at least you won’t regret it for the rest of your life. So just go for it!

*hugs and awws* 🙂

To summarise what I learned from Rui:

  1. Capital. Have some savings to get your business started.
  2. Identify a manufacturer and compare prices.
  3. Get started and don’t look back!

Make sure to support Rui’s work and buy a phone case or get some cute pieces for your home 🙂 Also, feel free to share this post with your friends and help a sister gain some confidence as well *blush*

the way to go


What do you do when you’re bored, a little antsy, and got nothing to do?
You keep busy. A good start? Go through pictures on your phone, edit them and put them up on your blog.

I don’t know why I found myself overly sentimental during my most recent trip to Mombasa. It seemed just a little bit more special to me, and I started to appreciate everything even more. These pictures hold dear memories to me; streets I’ve walked through my childhood. I’ve seen them change – aged and/ or refurbished. I’ve walked through them with family and friends. Some have come and gone. We’ve had many laughs and good times together, and we’ve experienced loss and stood strong with and for each other. We’ve grown. This is Old Town, Mombasa, the way I know it best. It’s narrow crooked streets and the immense beauty and history that resides therein.

These pictures fill me with hope, and an eagerness to keep the ball rolling in life. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Catch up again soon?