Inspired by Everyday Life, Janine Paints

ABU DHABI - Sitting quietly at her sewing machine, surrounded by threads, beads and brightly coloured cloth, Janine Ibbini works on a new piece of textile art.

“If I told you what inspired me for this design, you won’t believe it,” she says about the artwork in progress, which is part of a series and looks like colourful layers of the Earth.

“I like walking in the early mornings and on one such morning I found a small branch just cut from a palm tree. It was very young, still curled and unfolded. I was amazed to find these small lines and beautiful patterns, so I took it home and did several artworks inspired by it,” she explains.

These artworks, along with several other stunning quilts and wall-hanging textile art pieces, as well as her daughter’s collection of digital art prints are now exhibited at the Ghaf Gallery.

Leaving her native Yorkshire in England, Janine Ibbini has lived in the Middle East for the past 30 years, 28 of those in Abu Dhabi.

It is no wonder that her works — all in the bright, warm colours of the Gulf — are heavily influenced by the people, landscapes and the culture of UAE.

Using numerous layers and types of fabrics, delicately stitched together in various geometrical shapes, landscapes or even portraits, each piece may take Janine hours, days and sometimes weeks to complete.

“I started learning stitching and textile art 10 years ago, and this is my first solo exhibition in Abu Dhabi,” she says.

“It took me a long time to learn how to use the needle of the sewing machine like a pencil or a brush and master the art of drawing on cloth. Besides, I didn’t want to have an exhibition in a dedicated art gallery until my work was shining,” adds Janine.

Although all her works are eye-catchers, one particular piece is especially appealing, the Mariner’s Campus.

“For this piece I drew very carefully on paper a mariner’s campus and then used it to stitch together pieces of lame and silk, which are very difficult to work with,” reveals Janine.

Then, surrounding the campus are these arrows, which, in fact, are called the ‘geese flight’ — in stitching art, there is a name for everything.

“Finally, it was all applied on traditional cloth from Jordan that uses fine lines of shiny browns,” she says.

Most of Janine’s exhibited work is for sale, but she is holding back on a few special pieces.

“There are three of four works that I don’t want to sell because they have a special value for me. For example, this one, using the colours of the UAE flag, called ‘Salam Aleikum’. I was working on this piece when my mother passed away. It was the last thing she saw,” says Janine.

Her daughter Julia Ibbini is also a dedicated artist, but her medium is digital art. Calling herself a “freeform” artist, she uses ink, charcoal, clay, paint and digital photography, all digitally layered one over the other, thus creating images within images on her final work.

Julia and Janine Ibbini’s artworks will be exhibited at Ghaf until February 26.

Every morning from 10-12 Janine will offer free demonstrations on the art of stitching.


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