Raghad Al Ahmad

  • WordsAmira Asad
  • VisualsRaghad Al Ahmed

Born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Raghad Al Ahmad creates collages that are placeless, that disregard time and order. Mermaids live amongst fish-riding children in the galaxy, faceless men and women shoot bow-and-arrows and read books atop magnified tree leaves. Over the past five years, the dual interior designer and artist has garnered a cult following for her whimsical and fairytale-like collages. More recently, she’s begun hosting ‘experience’ nights, where other Jeddah-dwellers can immerse themselves in small-scale, collage-making events.

 If your work made digitally or by hand? 

I started working digitally five years ago and now I feel like I love working with paper – the manual part – collecting old magazines, cutting them. But it’s really up to me and my mood. Both have benefits and unique parts to them. Digital is fast, you can alter the pictures you work with in different ways, change colors and play around with them, the copyright is easier. But the manual collage-making side has its surprise element. You never know what you’re going to create until you finish the whole image.

 In your collages, there are a lot of women and galaxy imagery. What are some of the themes you see across your work and why are they there? 

What I create depends on the people I see and things I get inspired by. I can see a person and imagine them as a sunflower for example – I have this very visual side of me. I can see people as colors, too. What I make doesn’t have to be a specific thing or theme, it’s what I like. I love what i do. You know when you do something over and over and its become part of your blood and body and you walk with it. Collage is like an extension of myself.

Do you use Saudi human characters in your art?

No, it doesn’t have to be like I’m Saudi so I have to put this in my art. We have TV and internet nowadays, we aren’t closed off from the world. We have access. I don’t want to stick to one thing or another because of where I’m from.

You’ve hosted a few host collage workshops in Jeddah. What goes on in these?

They aren’t workshops, but more so collage experiences. I’ll choose a theme and we gather to do collages with good music, good food and make art. Because I’m an interior designer too, I believe in the importance of environment, so I’ll create a story for that workshop and buy elements to support it. The last experience was surrounded around sunflowers and I did it with the Social Kitchen. I changed the carpet in the space so there was a color scheme and everything.I’ve hosted one at the Saudi Art Council too. I don’t really post about them online because I don’t like to pressure myself with social media too much.

What’s your relationship with social media like?

I think it’s a difficult relationship. I’m still trying to understand it. I’m not there to be famous, I’m not there to show off, I’m just there to express and connect with people. I’ve met a lot of people through it and people have discovered me through it as well. It also makes me question: do we need galleries and exhibition nowadays in 2018? No, I don’t think so. Khalas, you can reach anyone online at this point in life.

What are the curiosities that consume you?

God, our environment, people. I love people, but at the same time I don’t like how they’ve made life so black and white. That if there’s questions, we need answers to them. I also think a lot about the art scene. There are stereotypes about artists, this mould of how we have to be and how we have to look and I want to change that. There are artists who have created their own environment and worlds, like Frida Kahlo. She never faked it. She was herself and had a lot of confidence. She’s inspired me a lot.

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