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Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings

Filaments of Light and Life

Above, and title photo, Orange Through Blue Tones, mixed media gallery, copyright Omeima Arts, reproduced here with the kind permission of the artist. Translucent, almost paleolithic, shell-like forms shimmer within the rippling surfaces of a Sudanese childhood recalled. Drenched in the glowing colours so central to her work, and echoing the delicate organic complexity of the natural world and its fragility, Omeima Mudawi’s shell symbol evolved, she explains, from a print she made of her ear. It invites us to a dialogue where real listening occurs; a dialogue between the Arab and the European, the hearing and the deaf, time, memory and perception.

Read more on Omeima’s nuanced visual lexicon in:

Abstract Symbols – Omeima Arts

Women’s History Month 2023

Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings, with her multi-textured exploration of identity, copyright, Threads. Omeima lost her hearing at the age of four and at twelve moved from Sudan to settle in the UK, the profound legacy of which she explores in her work.

Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings

Omeima’s Arabic cultural heritage informs her work.

Filaments of Light and Life

The Nile, A Conversation with Memory

The Transient and the Eternal; A River Runs Through and Wheel of Life

Filaments of Light and Life

This week’s post is the first of two articles celebrating the work of the Brighton-based British Sudanese visual and textile artist, Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings. This article provides a snapshot of just two aspects of Omeima’s creative portfolio. Omeima is an artist who revels in cultural and creative cross-fertilization: “My experience also underlines how often it is the non-formal processes and activities in our lives, where most of the interesting and dynamic things happen and where people meet and exchange ideas, can turn out to lead to some of our greatest opportunities and pathways,”

Omeima, interviewed in University for the Creative Arts

Join us next month for A Shell to the Ear, In Conversation with Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings to learn more about this remarkable artist and how she has championed inclusivity in the arts, intercultural understanding and the talents of so many British-Sudanese.

All photos in this article are reproduced with the kind permission of the artist and are copyright Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings. They may not be reproduced without her written permission.

Omeima was recently awarded an MBE for her twenty-five years’ service dedicated to broadening access and equitable opportunities for the deaf and people with disabilities in the arts. A Crafts Council member, Clore Fellow, artist and independent creative consultant (see Career Profile), Omeima passionately reminds us that when needs are met, there are no limits to creativity:

“Once deaf people have our communication needs recognized and accommodated, we can achieve anything. The sky’s the limit! I am proud to be a Muslim woman of colour who has been recognized first for her work as an artist and then for her Deafness.” Al-Taghyeer Honoured by Charles III

Left, Omeima receiving her MBE late last year (photo, Facebook, Al-Arabiya Sudan). Stunned to receive her nomination letter, she assumed her husband was playing a joke on her. In homage to her homeland and at her late mother’s request, she wore an elegant Sudanese toub to the ceremony.

Right, Dark Shell on Warm Tones, copyright, Omeima Arts, Abstract Symbols – “It has become a trademark signature of my work: an amalgamated symbol which to me is associated with journeys, physical and spiritual; with identity, communication and nature, organic evolution.” Abstract Symbols – Omeima Arts

The Nile, A Conversation with Memory

The Transient and the Eternal; A River Runs Through and Wheel of Life

Above, The Nile at sunrise and sunset, photos, copyright,

At dawn, the river embarks in silence / riverbanks glean suns from the scales of / dead fish / Jostled by eddies, the aroma of flotsam and / jetsam / bakes in the shadeEverything by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi.

Rich in resonances of her Afro-Arab heritage, and drawing on Arabic calligraphy, myth, music and drama, Omeima seeks to integrate and unify as she migrates, echoing the experiences of so many other migrants, across cultural, physical and artistic boundaries in her work. Poignant without the mournfulness tinged with bitterness of the emigré, her art is a calm distilling of recollection of what was, as memory, confronted with reality, is seen to shift and betray. There is loss – the past, homeland, facets of identity – but there is also an almost spiritual reassurance of the presence of the universal and eternal.

Omeima’s textile art embraces screen printing, silk dying, devoré techniques and glass fibre fabric and hot glass creations. She explains ” I use oxide mixed with sand, laid onto the surface of the material. The material is then laid onto the glass and heated to produce a chemical reaction which marks the pattern into the material.”

Above, capturing the luminosity of The Nile in eternal flow. There is also a talismanic quality to the work; she used “brass trinkets and shells from Sudan” and even a hearing aid battery in one of her pieces which sadly didn’t survive the firing process.

“The fabric within the laminated glass panels represent childhood memories and experiences from before I became deaf; they reflect my recollections of the sounds, colours and sensations of being near the Nile. The fabric was printed with layers of images and shapes to represent ripples in the water and the trees that line the banks. These images were built up in layers and I used Devore on velvet-viscose-satin to create a sense of transparency to mimic the quality of water.” Omeima Arts A River Runs Through – In Conversation with Glass Artist, Mike Barret

In “The Wheel of Life”, Omeima invests the Victorian zoetrope with a new, subtle, almost Sufic grace, inviting us to look closer and with a sense of wonder as the glowing structure is set in motion to the strains of the oud. She explains, “It was essentially an allegory of my life, as with zoetropes you don’t really know what is inside, so I quite like that as a metaphor for myself. You make an assumption of what you see on the outside, which is an Afro-Arab deaf woman, but you actually don’t really know what’s going on in the inside. I also integrated music into that installation that drew on my Arabic heritage,”

Omeima warmly stresses the power of collaboration in the creative process; “The Wheel of life project involved a collaboration with Syrian Oud musician Rihab Bazar, who composed and played the music, and British composer Ruth Montgomery (deaf musician and composer), who gave musical interpretation to what I was trying to express through my ‘Wheel of Life’ experiment with textile printing and moving images, inside and outside the wheel, which progress around a beautiful cylindrical structure. The pieces I made were built of a variety of materials such as pressed metal, shaped wood and fibre glass, permitting me to experiment with a variety of textile designs and techniques such as etching.”

You can see this beautiful piece in motion in Omeima Arts Wheel of Life

Join us next month for A Shell to the Ear, In Conversation with Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings to learn more about this remarkable artist how she has championed inclusivity in the arts, intercultural understanding and the talents of so many British-Sudanese.

For more links on this remarkable artist’s work, see below;

Deaf Role Model of the Month

Meet Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings; MBE – deaf textile artist and creative consultant

Getting to know social justice artist Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings

Come back next month for more on this inspiring artist.

This is a cultural post for Women’s Education Partnership.

Women’s Education Partnership

Learn more about our women’s literacy, orphans schooling and university scholarship projects programmes below:

Opening Doors – Our Women’s Literacy Programme

Our University Scholarships giving bright young women the chance to go to university

Scenes from Our Orphans’ Schooling Programme and From Hardship to Hope Our Orphans Schooling Programme

One comment on “Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings

  1. Extraordinarily evocative artwork.


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