Van Cleef & Arpels Collaborates with Emirati Calligraphist Maryam Al Balooshi

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A message of positivity, togetherness and inspiration for this Ramadan.


April 2020: French High Jewelry Maison Van Cleef & Arpels collaborates with well-known Emirati calligraphist Maryam Al Balooshi to create a beautiful series of calligraphy artworks inspired by values dear to the region, while also marrying the Maison’s spirit during this Holy Month of Ramadan. This meaningful partnership has resulted into a series of calligraphy art, themed Ramadan Kareem, Eid Mubarak and The Flowers of Values. Each artwork edition brings alive the message of positivity, inspiration, togetherness, unity, kindness and light, translating the very ethos of Ramadan and joyous occasion of Eid to come.

For many of Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations, flowers and positive vision of life are cherished sources of inspiration. Sharing similar ideals, Maryam Al Balooshi’s artwork sheds light on balance, kindness and compassion, and harmony of the community, whilst understanding the beauty of being together as one united family. Maryam’s masterpiece artwork, The Flowers of Values, embodies the spirit of positivity and inspiration that resonates with the Maison’s universe.

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Flowers have been a historic source of inspiration in art, design and jewelry from antiquity to present day.  Since its foundation in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels has been fascinated by flowers’ metamorphoses and has transcribed their vitality and colorful shades in its creations, from High Jewelry to Jewelry and Watchmaking. The Frivole collection, which has inspired Maryam Al Balooshi’s artwork, is a luminous ode to flowers, where the pieces have been crafted with precious materials thanks to expert savoir-faire.

The Maison has also continuously supported art and culture, providing upcoming artists with a platform to showcase their talent and creativity. Its collaboration with Maryam Al Balooshi is in line with this commitment.

In the past, Maryam has successfully worked with entities such as Sharjah International Calligraphy where her artistic skills and capability as an author helped establish her work successfully. This meaningful collaboration with Van Cleef & Arpels during the Holy month of Ramadan brings local relevance to the region and promotes the message of light and hope.

Interview with Maryam Al Balooshi

lf03-may-van-cleef-ramadan-3-copyHow did your relationship start with Van Cleef & Arpels?
The relationship started in 2019, through HE Sh. Manal Bint Mohammed Al Maktoum Cultural Office. I participated in an open conversation during L’ÉCOLE’s visit to Dubai. We covered the link between “Calligraphy and Jewelry design” which inspired us to further collaborate and work on this project built on philosophy and deep thoughts: Flowers of Values.

Can you take us through the process, from inspiration, to designing, to the final creation?
It all began in October, 2019. After several discussions and deliberation, it was decided that I would create a meaningful artwork focusing on calligraphy. The idea combined a touch of philosophy reflecting true and real values, which could be linked to our community. I thought of Ramadan. The link was between the community’s values in such a meaningful month alongside Van Cleef & Arpels’ values. It began with 38 different values and went down to 12 mutual values. The shape of a flower was the base of my artwork. Once we agreed on the mutual values, the designing process started. However, there were many sketches with other values that I was dabbling in, trying to figure out how I wanted the final product to look. The final piece of art went through various consultations with the Van Cleef & Arpels team. It was indeed a thoughtful piece, which I am proud of.

What has this experience meant to you?
It’s a very unique and special experience. It’s inspiring to work on values of an important month, the Holy Month of Ramadan, which has a very special meaning to my heart. The month of re-habitation, peace, love, and connection. Having these values married with Van Cleef & Arpels brings joy and happiness. It’s a collaboration with a lot of bliss and love among both parties. For an artist, respect and communication is desired and it’s always a blessing to have the opportunity to explore more inner energy in a different way.

Tell us about your unique style and about your previous work.
In the past few years, I have started to think differently about the art of calligraphy. Is what I’m doing considered to be different? I’m not the best in drawing letters or getting them in an excellent, fine-tuned shape. However, I learnt through a mentorship with another artist that my artwork and design has to have a strong story. I need to be able to write and describe my work. Since then, I’ve realized that I needed to utilize and unify my skills and capability as an author, an international person, and someone with a vision to create a footprint in my work. This would enable me to express what I’m presenting in this work, what the messages and my own values are. Today, I have a number of artworks which capture my thoughts and feelings, and they do have a real story behind the design, including this current piece. One of my best works was presented in Sharjah International Calligraphy exhibition called Living Together – 7 Continents.

What else is in the pipeline for you as an artist?
I’m planning for my own first solo exhibition in which I will present new messages and stories. Hoping I can change the perspective of normal and typical calligraphy exhibition. I’m working on a few new sketches trying to show the influence of the letters, the influence of art, and the embedded feelings beneath calligraphy.

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Engineer Maryam Al Balooshi
Maryam Al Balooshi is one of the UAE’s third generation of calligraphers. She started to learn Arabic calligraphy when she was a child from admiring the details of characters, their curves and beauty as well as the accuracy of writing and implementation. After finishing many studies, trainings and reviews, she has become capable to design and select perfect ink colors. She is always attempting to try new approaches and study thoroughly the techniques and skills of retouches.

She has always been sure of her interest in calligraphy since 1994, and although she took a short break in between (2003-2008), she was confident that the art was deeply rooted in her. Many professional calligraphers taught her the techniques of this art, such as Mr. Abdullah Al Tamimi, Mr. Adel Nada, Mr. Adnan Al Sharifi and Mr. Mohamed Nouri. She participated in many local and international art exhibitions; the most important of which are: Dubai International Calligraphy Exhibition, Emirates Association for Calligraphy exhibition in Thailand, Noun Al Neswa Gallery at Marsam Mattar, Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial (2014. 2016 and 2018). The first exhibition of the Emirates Association for the Arts of Calligraphy and Ornamentation “Bukour”, Medad Al Watan Exhibition (or Art of Calligraphy in our Home Country), the Exhibition of Al Harf Wa Ana Team (or Letters of the Soul), the Female Arabic Calligraphers’ Exhibition in the UN Headquarter in Geneva.

Main Awards:
Engineer Maryam was awarded the Arab Women Award-UAE for the young talent and effective women category for 2015 Middle East Leadership of Excellence- Leader in Aviation from the American Association of leaders endorsed by GCC Economic Chamber 2015.

Maryam Al Balooshi is an engineer, holding a master degree of environmental science and she is currently working as a manager of environmental studies at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority.

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