Nora Zeid’s stunning Cairo illustrations to kick off Tashkeel’s new season



“Illustrated Cairo: Stories of Heliopolis” by Nora Zeid explores the bustling Egyptian capital around themes of memory, tourism and infrastructure. The visual artist’s first solo exhibition is an ode to the often overlooked intricacies of his hometown, represented through black-and-white and hand-drawn digital illustrations. The free exhibition, the 13th public result of Tashkeel’s Critical Practice Program since its inception in 2014, will be held at Tashkeel Nad Al Sheba 1 Gallery, Dubai from September 14 to October 23, 2021.

Eager to reestablish her relationship with the city of Cairo, Zeid, who turned to her visual arts practice as well as freelance illustration after working as a graphic designer at Abjad Design for three years, collected memories from various neighborhoods. The artist, who has worked for clients such as VICE, NoGood, Matter, Dubai Culture and Dubai Design District, found that each memory is linked to the next through space, adding a virtual layer of historical facts to those personal experiences. . Subsequently, this shaped a duality between the personal and the general, the small and the large, making the heritage theme more accessible.

“Walking down a busy street in Cairo is having your senses saturated and overwhelmed as you scramble to process the immense amount of data in front of your senses. Every square inch of the city demands your constant and undivided attention, ”said the American University of Sharjah graduate with a BS in Visual Communication.

“My practice is motivated by the desire to reestablish my relationship with Cairo through careful observation. In order to better understand my hometown, I wanted to temporarily stop the bustling city, ”adds Zeid.

The artist explains that his works freeze intimate moments in space and time, the black and white touch simplifying the scenes and allowing the intricate tapestry of the city to shine. “As buildings, objects and people disappear in the distance, they become more and more abstract, blending into the rich and intricate texture of the cityscapes depicted. Said Zeid.

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director of Tashkeel, says the exhibit is a timely commentary on the ongoing debate around urbanization, socio-economy, heritage and belonging.

“The value of the built heritage in Cairo – and in Egypt as a whole – is strongly linked to age, its celebration often being reserved for Pharaonic, Islamic and Coptic sites,” explains Ball-Lechgar. “Even then, their value is mainly linked to tourism. Nora’s exhibition aims to question how Cairo residents define and interact with heritage, starting with the Heliopolis district.

A printed catalog featuring the contributions of Mahy Mourad, architect and professor at the American University in Cairo, and Omniya Abdel Barr, architect, heritage expert and member of the Barakat Trust at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, is an exciting addition to the showcase. A digital version of the catalog will be available using the QR code displayed in the gallery.

Advance reservation is required by email [email protected] or by contacting +971 4 336 3313. You can also visit for more details on the program, exhibition and tours.


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