Kheyameya, or ‘Egyptian tentmaking’, is a type of decorative appliqué textile historically used to decorate ceremonial tents across the Middle East.
Rotate Editions has produced a limited edition series of Kheyameya wall hangings: a collaboration between four European graphic artists and two Kheyameya artists.
Artists: Anthony Burrill; A Practice For Everyday Life; Damien Poulain and Rhonda Drakeford of Darkroom. Tentmakers: Ashraf Hashem and Yahia (Hassan Omar).
A limited edition of eleven examples of each of the fourteen designs will be available to order. A series of screen prints of some of the designs is also planned.
Kheyameya is launching at the Bert & May warehouse as part of the London Design Festival 2016. Bert & May will also be showcasing new tile and fabric collaborations with Darkroom. A Darkroom pop-up shop will simultaneously take over the Bert & May Barge.
Kheyameya artists, or ‘tentmakers’, have for centuries created large-scale needle-turned appliqué pieces to line the interiors of tents used for ceremonies including marriages and funerals, and also for religious festivals.
These ‘linings’ were traditionally hand-stitched. The process has since been replaced by machine-made versions, knocked out by factories at a fraction of the price and beauty. Today, imported, badly printed cotton examples are the norm.
Genuine hand-stitched Kheyameya are today largely sold as homewares (wall hangings, bedspreads and cushions) to Egyptians who can afford them, to private customers across the Middle East, and to tourists. As the political situation in Cairo remains volatile and there are few tourists, these artisans, working in the dusty beauty of old Cairo, increasingly rely on exports, but most are struggling.
Antique specimens of Kheyameya are rare. Originally made for outdoor use in the dry heat and dust, and dubbed ‘moveable palaces’, they were regarded as expendable and were neither collected nor preserved. There is however archaeological evidence to suggest that Kheyameya have been created and used in Egypt since the Pharaonic era, as well as numerous literary and fine art references. The artform reached its peak in the 18th and 19th Centuries when the Kiswa, the cloth cover for the Ka’aba in Mecca, was made by the tentmakers in Cairo. Four examples of Kheyameya are held in the collection of the British Museum in London.
Despite this historic legacy, the 'tentmaker' occupation is now endangered.
Traditionally the design of each Kheyameya is first drawn on a large sheet of brown paper. For this project, the designs were instead printed to scale. The outline of each pattern is pricked out by fine needlepoint in tens of thousands of small holes and this perforated sheet of paper is then laid onto the background canvas. A black carbon dust is sprinkled lightly over the paper so that the dust percolates through the holes leaving a stencil outline of the pattern on the cloth. The design is then drawn onto the background canvas in pencil, using the ‘dusted’ dots as a guide and each piece of the pattern then hand-stitched into place.
Graphic artist, print-maker and designer Anthony Burrill is known for his persuasive, up-beat style of communication. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York and has been exhibited in galleries around the world including the Barbican Art Gallery, the Walker Art Center and the Design Museum, London. Words and language are an important part of Anthony’s output and he has developed a distinctive voice that is sought after not only by collectors of his posters and prints but also by clients including Google, Hermés, the British Council, London Underground and the Design Museum. Anthony is perhaps best known for his typographic, text-based compositions, including the now-famous “Work Hard and Be Nice to People”, which has become a mantra for the design community and beyond. anthonyburrill.com
Damien Poulain is a graphic designer and illustrator working across a wide range of fields, with a specific focus on art, fashion and music. He also publishes photography books under the name oodee.
He has gained international recognition – commercially and artistically – with work for clients including Dazed and Confused, KesselsKramer, Adidas and Uniqlo, solo shows in London at Kemistry Gallery and KK Outlet, in Tokyo at Calm and Punk Gallery and Claska, and group shows at the Museum of Graphic Design in Breda, Holland. He is regularly featured in international publications.
In 2011, Damien founded oodee, a publishing house focusing on contemporary photography. Including the sold out London and Tokyo editions of oodee’s inaugural POV Female series, he also produces books for Pieter Hugo, Charlotte Dumas and Viviane Sassen.
Damien works between London and Paris. damienpoulain.com
A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL) is a graphic design studio based in London. Founded in 2003 by Kirsty Carter and Emma Thomas, their work includes art direction, books, visual identities, exhibitions, type design, signage, packaging, and digital. The studio was set up to explore the potential of graphic design as a meaningful process of cultural production, and to find new ways of communicating in a simple and imaginative way. Alongside client work they also undertake frequent self-initiated projects exploring areas of mutual interest within the studio.
A Practice for Everyday Life's clients and collaborators include the V&A, Barbican, Kettle’s Yard, Hepworth Wakefield, Tate, Visual Editions, Art on the Underground, Whitechapel Gallery, and the Design Museum.
Projects by APFEL are held in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; the V&A Museum Archive; the Bibliothèque National des Livres Rares, Paris; the Royal College of Art Library, London, the Tate Library, London and the Museo del Diseño, Barcelona. apracticeforeverydaylife.com
Rhonda Drakeford of Darkroom
After studying Graphic Design at Central St. Martins, Rhonda formed the design consultancy Multistorey with fellow CSM graduate Harry Woodrow.
Multistorey became well known for its highly creative portfolio that encompassed a wide array of production techniques. It is this personal interest in creating objects using both traditional and pioneering processes that gradually drew Rhonda towards the world of product and interior design.
In 2009 she launched the London design store Darkroom with partner Lulu Roper-Caldbeck. Celebrated both by press and a huge following of design-savvy customers, Darkroom has changed the landscape of London retail, offering an immersive environment selling unique and award winning products. multistorey.net darkroomlondon.com
All project graphic design by ARPA (A Research Projects Agency).