Textiles to music notes by Ruth Montgomery

Omeima is an incredibly talented textile artist living in Brighton, England.  She was born in Khartoum, Sudan and has fond memories of growing up and spending time by the River Nile and being raised by her Ethiopian nanny while her mother worked.  This gave the family life some routine, as well as going out to social gatherings where African music and beats were an important feature in their lives as well as adding exciting spices in their dishes.

She became deaf at the age of 4 through meningitis. This caused a shift in the family dynamics. I wanted a composition that relates to deafness and its changes and beauty.

There is a split in the middle in her textile design where significant events occurred, and where composer Waseem Kotoub follows the direction of the timeline/changes too in the music he related to with Omeima’s designs.

3 main movement – 3 textile art works.

BELONGING composed by Waseem Kotoub
Textile art – Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings
Project leader – Ruth Montgomery

1st movement: Dusk


Omeima’s works features images and designs from Sudan which are then embellished with decorative motifs, calligraphy writing, and colourful symbols reflecting her Arabic heritage.

The first half of the work shows the river Nile, communicating with family members which are shown using symbols. Second half of the picture shows the deafness/illness she had at the age of four and audiograms from hospital appointments. Plus her father’s job meant that the family needed to move to Saudi Arabia.

2nd movement: TORN


Torn:  While in Saudi Arabia, the different nanny there accidently placed a bowl of hot boiling water and it was poured all over her younger brother Ahmed who suffered from severe skin burns. This resulted his deafness too.
Mother decides that the family should return to Khartoum, Sudan.  Ahmed was a very difficult toddler, hence the middle white lines showing bubbles of frustrations.  Omeima felt she could understand that the frustrations were due to lack of communication.
The purple part was the sadness part for Omeima, deciding that she needs to move to England with her mother and Ahmed for specialist education.  Her father stayed behind in Sudan. This was the reason for the title ‘Torn’,

3rd movement: Blossom


3rd movement: Blossom Omeima faced a lot of cultural shifts – from being a Sudanese Arabic young woman to living in England, learning a new language, sign language at school, foods, and way of life.  However she embraced her deafness and made so many friends in the deaf world.  She was particularly good with colours, textiles, screen printing and flourished during those years at college and began exhibiting textile works in various places around the world.  She married a hearing British man and they have a daughter Lilly Nile. The colours represents her feeling settled and at home with her identity and artistic strength.