Arts & Culture The Home Issue

Why bananas remind me of home

This Bahraini graphic and spatial designer tells us.

By Maryam Alamin

From Maryam Alamin’s Banana Bread: Home Airlines series, which was exhibited in La Biennale Paris in September 2019.

I moved to London when I was 19 years old to pursue a degree in art. Five years later, I was about to graduate from my MA degree. In the months leading up to graduation, I worked on developing a portfolio. Creating graphic props became something I was fascinated with. I decided to create something simple, and without too much thought banana bread came to mind. It had been a cold winter, and all I wanted was a warm slice of banana bread. Bananas are a source of comfort to me because they are my go to snack when I’m home in Bahrain, and throughout my university years I made it a habit to always have a bunch of bananas in my kitchen.

After pulling up references, I started the initial design process. However, the project slowly started taking a backseat until I eventually set it aside for a while. I spent winter break that year in Bahrain, and flew back to London in January. As usual, the first week back I felt displaced. Very soon that feeling went away as a routine settled its way back into my daily life.

Bahraini spatial and graphic designer Maryam Alamin. Courtesy.

I continued developing my portfolio, and found myself back in the world of banana bread. This time, I was not only craving a warm slice of banana bread, but I was also homesick. I used what I was feeling as a driver for the project. The design became very nostalgic, and centered around the theme of travel. The idea being that the ready mix box of banana bread, once baked, would figuratively transport you to any place you – the consumer – consider to be home. The props were also bilingual to express my Arabic self and the Western world I was in for the time I had been abroad. Following that theme, the graphic props I created grew from a banana bread box to airline tickets, a boarding pass, fragile stickers, and more.

Once the project was completed, the feeling of homesickness was gone. My craving for banana bread was satisfied as I treated myself to banana bread after the end of the project, and the banana and the egg from the shoot were happily turned into a batch of banana pancakes.

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Maryam Alamin is a Bahraini spatial and graphic designer. In 2017, Maryam graduated from London’s Chelsea College of Arts with a BA in Interior & Spatial Design. The following year she completed a MA in Collaborative Theatre Production & Design from Guildhall School of Music and Drama. During her MA year, Maryam developed her interest in set and graphic design through work experience in the art department of film and television. Following graduation, Maryam moved back to Bahrain where she is currently freelancing as a designer. Her personal projects stem from narratives that are translated into bright, colorful, and fun compositions.