Azza Al Qubaisi
Artistic Creativity Between Originality and Contemporariness

The Swing
An art piece that takes inspiration from the pre-oil period, in the pearling season in particular. the season when women were used to eagerly waiting on the beach for their husbands’ return. In comparison with today, where it provides a small space for a break, which welcomes families to set together and spend some time contemplating the prosperity and development achieved by the UAE, especially in Al Noor Island in Sharjah. Both modern and ancient materials used represent the past and the present. the visitors have the chance to see the patterns and shades inspired by palm trees and Ghaf trees, along with the abstract steel pieces that represent the palm tree branches, which is a reflection of the artwork concept and idea.

Art is the process of producing beauty and delight, and expressing the human being inner self with all that it encompasses. art translates the artist’s mentality and culture, and it contributes to making civilizations and conveying their identity. art is a lifestyle and a medium through which I can communicate with society(1)

Azza Al Qubaisi

Azza Al Qubaisi
An Artist, Sculptor, and a Pioneer in Designing and Innovating Jewelry

Artist Azza Al Qubaisi is keen to preserve her innate energy, making sure she is not wasting it to no avail. she is always seeking to experiment, innovate, and enhance her skills, because the creative ability is what differentiates a real artist, and also because an honest artistic production has the ability to take us on a journey to a world that we have never seen before. the artist relies, in her artistic experience, on civil factors and effects, she also relies on her cultural heritage and the Emirati environment, hence the originality and authenticity spirit in her pieces, she also makes a few changes to them, whether in ratios, in relations, or in modifications, thus turning the jewelry pieces that she design, which are small masterpieces to wear, into big ones that encompass us, ones in which we can dive, and where we get to meet a world of creativity and beauty manufactured by the artist.

Originality and Contemporariness

Originality is considered one of the pillars of creative thinking, and it is achieved by creating harmony between configuration, processing, seriousness, items, artistic values, and raw materials. this leads us to conclude that one feature, of utmost importance, in the creativity related to originality in artist Azza Al Qubaisi’s work is “Eloquence”, meaning her ability to express a great amount of ideas in a set period of time. the artist has embarked on her journey to establish her artistic entity, via academic study and drawing upon the sources of knowledge related to cultural heritage, thus creating her own intellectual inventory and assets. she started her career in art by carefully picking symbols from those sources, among which is heritage, after forming her own ideology, concepts, and artistic vision. the creative mind draws upon knowledge sources, as much as needed, doing so in balance, to restore them and reorganize them according to a unique vision.

Emirati Environment

Artist Azza Al Qubaisi has resorted to the Emirati life and environment, taking on plant symbols, represented by palm tree branches or Kurab and so on, in order to arrive at a design in which all raw materials get familiarized. this is due to the Emirati local environment being rich with many elements and items that were and still are a source of inspiration for many Emirati artists.
What is unique about artist Azza Al Qubaisi is her love for work and creation, which came after a long journey of artistic preparations, aesthetic research, and mental maturity, in addition to having all the tools of creativity available, including experience, sensible perceptions, and raw material. the artist designs her artworks, and jewelry, starting from symbols that are unique to the Emirati environment, and elements of the ecosystem, in a way that preserves heritage and identity in a frame of originality and contemporariness. the configuration of her jewelry pieces starts with a glance in her mind, to her hands then starting the design, and the raw material comes at last as a supplementary tool contributing to the success of the creative process, thus unraveling a new art piece that is ready for the world to see.
The artworks of artist Azza Al Qubaisi not only have aesthetic and adorned dimensions, but there are also the human and social dimensions they carry within. through her huge configurations, in which architecture, sculpture, and artistic design are combined; she aims to create a space for communication that invites people to interact with the artwork. it is as if she wants the viewer to enter the world of her designs instead of just wearing them. in this she relies on enriching the forming factors of the elements and materials used, and combining them in one mixture, with a new and innovative entity.

Azza Al Qubaisi: “Eternity” Collection, Jewelry
Azza Al Qubaisi: “Life” Collection, Jewelry
Azza Al Qubaisi: “ Bareq Al Oud” Collection, Jewelry

An Entrepreneur Career

Artist Azza Al Qubaisi inspires her artistic vision out of her great love for the local environment and the pictures stored in her mind while growing up in Abu Dhabi emirate. she tries to convey its effect in her art pieces, in addition to her keen grasp on the originality and the ancient past of her country and its deep-rooted heritage. she seeks, through her art pieces, to create awareness around nature, cultural heritage, and national identity of the UAE, in addition to spreading around the concepts of the Emirati heritage and environment, all through her artworks and jewelry.
Azza Al Qubaisi is an Emirati artist and sculptor, pioneering in the field of designing and innovating jewelry pieces. she received her education in London, and she obtained a diploma in foundational studies from ” Chelsea College of Art & Design”, and a bachelor’s degree in arts and literature with honors in Silversmithing, jewelry design, and allied crafts from Guildhall School in the British Capital back in 2002, thus becoming the first Emirati jewelry designer specialized in that field. she also obtained a certificate in diamond grading from HDR Antwerp – Belgium. she then continued her higher studies to obtain an MA degree in Cultural and Creative Industries from the Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi, in 2012.
Her career started with her family’s encouragement. her father was a gem and precious stones collecting enthusiast. during her years of studying at “Chelsea College”, she learned how to work using different tools and various materials, to feel back then that jewelry design is her most suitable choice. she knew that through it, she could reach a wider audience in her society, women especially, which was not the case, a fact she later learned because the public taste was still traditional in terms of owning jewelry, and they’re not often thought of as the valuable masterpieces they are with all their creative and human dimensions.
This instead made her more determined to change the prevailing thoughts around jewelry concepts, and replace their materialistic value by adding spiritual and emotional dimensions. About that, Azza Al Qubaisi says: “One of my collections revolves around using Oud. wearing Oud wood was not acceptable or common, hence the audience shock when I displayed them for the first time”(2)

ARJMST

Artist Azza Al Qubaisi founded an atelier for jewelry design and she called it “ARJMST”, a name that is a combination and carries a special signification for her as it combines the initials of her name, and her siblings’ names.
She thought that it would be inappropriate, given her conservative upbringing, to use her name, but this notion faded later, and she was soon gaining a reputation spreading through the world of art due to her participation in art exhibitions, and her name was soon trending. many artistic jewelry collections fall under her unique brand, we mention of them: “Eternity”, “the Emirates”, “Echo”, and “Angel’s Tears” in which she narrates the story of pearl diving in the Arabian Gulf. soon enough, Azza Al Qubaisi’s innovative jewelry designs were gaining attention, especially those revolving around elements of the Emirati environment, such as the desert, the sea, the pearls, and Oudh…
Azza Al Qubaisi founded in 2006 her first entrepreneur project to support and promote local crafts and talents, and it was non-governmental and non-profitable, named “Made in the UAE for Souvenirs” with the aim of spreading awareness around the local heritage and craftsmanship, along with developing a program for cultural and crafts exchange by showcasing crafts products from all around the world. Azza Al Qubaisi has designed many gifts and awards in the “Arab Workshop for Jewelry and Gemstones” which she founded and called “ARJMST”, among which is an award for Million’s Poet show, and an award for Abu Dhabi Film Festival, in addition to the award of Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival for pure-bred Arabian horses.
In 2011, Azza Al Qubaisi launched a local initiative in Zayed City – Western Region under the name “Touch of Creativity” to train a group of female graduates in Zayed City in the field of design and jewelry crafts, so that this group of Emirati talent will later contribute to enriching the local art scene with creative designs inspired by the local heritage and environment, in addition to developing the Western Region with promising Emirati thinking in collaboration with concerned entities in the region. Azza Al Qubaisi received many special awards, among which is “Arab Woman of the Year” in 2010 for the Jewelry Design category from L’Officiel magazine, and also the “Emirates Women Award” in 2011 for the Businesswomen category.
She has also showcased her artworks locally and internationally, both in group and solo exhibitions. she represented the UAE in “A 1001 steps Festival” in Finland in 2004 and was the first artist to exhibit in DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) in 2005. Al Qubaisi exhibited in “Language of the Desert” in Abu Dhabi, ‘Three Generations’, in addition to many exhibitions.
When contemplating artist Azza Al Qubaisi’s career, one could easily notice the extent to which it grew and developed, starting from designing artistic jewelry pieces, up to the point of creating artworks in public spaces.
Her academic studies were the stepping stones from which she went to enhance her skills and capabilities, experimenting with different materials along the way. the raw materials that Azza Al Qubaisi utilizes to innovate her designs vary and extend to include elements and items from the local environment, palm tree branches in particular, in addition to gemstones, leather, plastic, organic materials, industrial minerals, asphalt, fossil seashell, camel bones, incense bottles, steel, diamond, pearls, gold and silver, in addition to rusty iron pieces, the material that is closest to her heart as iron to her closely relates to the living organism, through which she can observe the advancing time and the passing days.

Azza Qubaisi and the Alphabet of Love and Live

Azza Al Qubaisi chose palm tree branches for their status in the Emirati heritage, and inspired them to innovate huge statues in her artwork “Alphabet of Life”, which clearly reflects the development of her experience, from innovating small art pieces to building huge configurations with which the audience can interact. Al Qubaisi used iron materials in addition to Kurbah as an environmental symbol, which is the smooth part of the palm tree, the model is up to 4.5 meters in height, with a diameter of 3.5 meters, while the ground, which is designed like a spiral, signifies the evolving and continuity of life.

Azza Al Qubaisi: “Alphabet of Life”, steel, 3×3 m, Hight 3-6 m, 2018, courtesy of the artist.

Al Qubaisi wanted the audience to interact with her art pieces, so they can walk inside them and observe the light sneaking in from between its slits, just like the light sneaking in between the branches. speaking about her experience developing, she said “I no longer see myself in the jewelry size as a material, I have moved to building models, and with that, the sizes of the art pieces have changed.” in another artwork, “The Basis of Love”, Al Qubaisi embodies the streamlines of the desert, all starting from a base that contains the word “love”, this art piece reflects the artist’s attachment to her environment, and her affection for the desert. she kept on taking pictures of the dunes since her studying days, and the desert was the first destination she visited when she came back from London in a vacation. this passion encouraged her to innovate a collection of jewelry using silversmithing techniques, aiming to convey a 3-dimensional surface, as she wanted the desert to always hold her. this reflects her attachment to the material, and Al Qubaisi refers to the desert as not only an icon of beauty, but also as a collection of stories that are being written in its folds, so they could be erased and re-written all over again with every new sunrise. Azza seeks, through her artwork, to spread awareness about the unique nature of the UAE and its national identity.

Solitude: A Temporary Isolation from the Outside World

An artistic piece that poses questions about the gist of existence. it fosters the spirit of meditation in an invitation for reconciliation with the self, through temporary isolation from the outside materialistic world. the artist derived the dimensions of this art piece from the cave in which Prophet Mohammed received the revelation of Quran. the artwork comes in the shape of a square on the outside, and in waves on the inside made out of iron and wood slices in gradients under continuous lighting, in an attempt to refer to the time and the sequence of day and night, from sunrise to sunset. the lighting is also gradient within the internal space to signify a mini-version of isolation with the self. while the adorned pieces are made of palm branches. the artwork was displayed in the 24th edition of the Islamic Arts Festival in Sharjah, under the name “Gradients”

Azza Al Qubaisi: “Solitude”,mild steel/ wood, 2021, courtesy of the artist.
Azza Al Qubaisi: “Meem: between the lines”, mild steel/ wood/ stainless steel, Dimensions: Height 4 mx Length 9.2xDepth 4.2 , 2022, courtesy of the artist.

“Meem” between the lines

“Meem” is an art piece inspired by the aesthetics of Arabic calligraphy and the features of balance and consistency. it allows the beholder to interact with the Arabic letter, and embark on a journey of dynamic movement between the lines that are generated while going around the artwork. the piece is in two parts: one that is spiral where the viewer could walk in an open space between the layers until arriving at the center of the piece, which is a space where one could find isolation. the other part is the place where the line goes close to the ground as much as possible to create another curve that is open to the letter, which creates a natural asymmetric arch that allows the viewer to talk beneath. it was showcased at the calligraphy square in Sharjah, on the margins of Sharjah Calligraphy Biennale. the artwork is made out of iron that is oxidized within the surrounding environment, and the idea was initially based on the biennale’s main theme which is “Elevation”.

1. Azza Qubaisi: “personal interview, recorded, 18/3/2020, Sharjah, “Memory & Art” Book.

2. Azza Qubaisi: “personal interview, recorded, 18/3/2020, Sharjah, “Memory & Art” Book.

Chief Editor | Website

Art historian, curator, visual artist, & editor-in-chief of Al-Tashkeel magazine. she holds a Ph.D. with distinction in "Art & Science of Arts," in addition to holding an MFA in Fine Arts and an MA in Philosophy of Art. She has numerous published books that provide documentation for Art in the Arab World.

“Al Tashkeel” Magazine

he first issue of “Al Tashkeel” Magazine was published back in 1984, four years after the formation of the Emirates Fine Arts Society. The fine arts movement was witnessing growth and gaining traction on all other artistic levels.