Arts & Culture

Sekka and 1971-Design Space Celebrate Womanhood In A New Exhibition

"The Woman Series" group exhibition brings together three Gulf female artists.

By Sekka

Scenes from The Woman Series: She Is Who Births Half of Society and Raises the Other. Images by Jaq Velizario and Maryna Fasteyeva for Sekka.

The Women Series: She is Who Births One Half of Society and Raises the Other is a group exhibition brought together through a collaboration between Sekka and “1971-Design Space.” The exhibition opened on March 8 and showcases the works of three artists from the Gulf region: Budoor Al Reyami from Oman, Maha Al Asaker from Kuwait and Hessa Al Suwaidi from the United Arab Emirates. The works exhibited reflect on Arab womanhood, identity and culture, while exploring how each artist perceives cultural traditions in different contexts and how each portrays these reflections through their work. 

The opening of the exhibition coincides with the launch of the Womanhood Issue by Sekka. Sekka’s Womanhood Issue features some leading women from various sectors, including art, film, media and literature, who explore what it means to be an Arab woman today, including Hessa Alsuwaidi and Maha Al Asaker.

From left to right: Hessa Al Suwaidi, Maha Al Asaker and Budoor Al Riyami. Images provided by the artists.

Visitors to the exhibition, which is held in “1971-Design Space” in the Flag Island, Sharjah, will walk through and in between the works of the artists, which are laid out in three sections. The first section features award-winning Omani artist Budoor Al Riyami’s stills from her film titled The Will. The stills depict the artist writing and erasing wills on her young son using a kohl (black eyeliner) to project changing desires with age.

From The Will by Omani artist Budoor Al Riyami. Image courtesy of Budoor Al Riyami.

‘In this work, I write my own will with kohl on the soft skin of my little son Azzan. I might live longer to change my will (as I have always done throughout the years),’  explains the artist who will also be representing her country at the Venice Biennale later this year. ‘I write my will to define my relationship with my son after my death.’

The next section features work by Maha Al Asaker, a Kuwaiti visual artist whose pieces centre on women, culture and identity. Her embroidery-based photography series, A Trap Called the Body, will explore a variety of patriarchal proverbs that some men and women express throughout the Arab world that limit women. Through the series, Al Asaker will investigate the meaning of being a woman.

From A Trap called the Body by Maha Al Asaker. Image courtesy of Maha Al Asaker

The concluding section showcases the works of Emirati artist Hessa Al Suwaidi. Titled Kshati (which translates to ‘my wild hair’ in Arabic), the work, which is composed of tapestry and an embroidered cloak, forms an exploration of the artist’s personal journey from a young girl to womanhood. ‘My big poofy hair is a big part of me, my personality and my identity. The curls that I choose to show complete me and are an integral part of me, in a mental and physical manner,’ explains the artist. 

From “Kishati” by Emirati artist Hessa Al Suwaidi. Image courtesy of Hessa Al Suwaidi.

Fatima Al Mahmoud, head of 1971-Design Space states that, “In celebration of International Women’s Day, we were pleased at 1971-Design Space to have collaborated with Sekka to host an exhibition that holds a purposeful message and that focuses on important issues related to women, while shedding a light on Arab women, their experiences and identity.”

‘We are pleased to have worked with the wonderful team at 1971 Design Space to put this exhibition together. At Sekka, our mission is to highlight the incredible talents of the region to international audiences, and as we celebrate women this month, we are proud to be sharing the works of these three exceptionally talented artists from the Gulf with local and international visitors,’ says Sharifah Alhinai, Sekka’s co-founder and managing storyteller.

To find out more about the exhibition and for directions, visit

The Woman Series: She is Who Births One Half of Society and Raises the Other is available for viewing until March 24th, between 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m (from 2 pm to 9:30 pm on Fridays). 

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.