In Bahrain, Online Magazine

When Art and Words Collide

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Artist Saman Sohail helps us visualize “Visual Words”.


The Words Bookstore Café in Bahrain recently launched “Visual Words”, an illustrated dictionary that features poetry by Anushka Gupta paired with artwork by Saman Sohail. In an exclusive interview, Sohail shares her insight on this creative collaboration.

What is the inspiration behind “Visual Words”?

As designers, travelers and observers of the world, telling stories through our work has always been significant. Each word we chose represents an expression of dreams, hopes, loves, heartbreaks, courage and discovery which all of us have experienced at some point in our lives. The alphabet offers endless opportunities to select words that describe those emotions. The book carves a story of its own because each person who explores it becomes a part of its journey.

Tell us about the creative process.

I was sharing a series of abstract watercolor circles “The #PaintedCircleSeries” on Instagram which were inspired by various quotes and poems. Anushka sent me a message of appreciation when I painted a few verses she had written and we ended up talking about a collaborative project.visualwordksbook_source_4

We narrowed down 38 words from the English language that resonated with us and that embraced various emotions within them. Anushka would choose a word, then string more of them together to lend beautiful meaning to them in poetry. I would then take the poetry and paint my abstract interpretation of her words in watercolor. The book took about a year and a half to complete.

What does “Visual Words” mean to you?

“Visual Words” came to us at a challenging time in both of our lives. It helped us to deal with, express and even resolve certain emotions and ideas. We’ve woven pieces of our souls into each letter and every streak of color.

Visual Words is now available at Words Bookstore.

Location: Palm Square, Budaiya Highway, Bahrain

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