Thursday, 6 October 2016


Artist, Munira Motala has a degree in Fine Arts with Honours in Design. Islamic Art is just an avenue of art that she chose to specialize in. “One's knowledge of the basic elements of art, such as line, colour, shape and texture can be applied to any aspect of art,” said Munira.” “I started working with Stained Glass initially when I started my career as an artist. It is an old Victorian technique used in Medieval Churches and Cathedrals. I applied this ancient craft to Islamic Art, juxtaposing the brilliant colours of glass such as reds, emerald greens, purples, yellows, together with different textures, to Islamic Calligraphy, and some Islamic scripts, especially the Kufic Script, lends itself to Stained Glass.” “My father was an artist known as Yusuf Kat (Kathrada). He was a caricaturist and did cartoons for the then "Leader" and "Graphic". When I was a little girl, art materials were always lying around and accessible. I was fascinated with the ease with which my father did illustrations, using charcoal, pen and ink, paints and pastels. He encouraged my latent talent, and was an inspiration indeed.” “The challenges I face with my work is that I have chosen a niche market. Each piece of artwork that I produce requires planning and individual attention. It is time consuming because of the details, and most importantly, it is work that is not mass produced and commercial.”

“My influence I attribute to the wide variety of materials that are available in our country, such as wood, metal, Zulu glass beads, recycled paper, chicken mesh. “

“My advice to new artists is to work from their heart. Working on a piece of artwork can be challenging, because you have moments of frustration where you cannot solve some portion of your work "an artist's block".” “It may take days sometimes to find a solution. Looking at the piece everyday with fresh eyes at the work in progress helps. It finally clicks when u least expect it.

If art is a reflection of one's environment and being, Munira Motala's work is an example of just that. As a South African Muslim, she transcribes her multiple identities into her pieces of artwork.
The first element of Munira's work stems from the fact that images are forbidden in Islam. She has turned to embracing Islamic Calligraphy in its many styles and forms. Classic Arabic scripts such as Kufic, Nasthalique, Maghribi, Nakshi are used- sometimes distorting, stylising and abstracting them to create new styles of her own. The second element of her work is a reflection of her environment. Living in South Africa, Munira cannot help but be influenced by our own rich local art. "Being a South African I am exposed to many local materials such as Zulu glass beads, wire, metal, recycled paper, chicken mesh and lots of indigenous wood". She integrates these local materials into her artwork to create a fusion of tribal African and Arabic elements. Tribal motifs such as diamonds, dots, triangles, spirals and colours such as bright reds, yellows, oranges and blues are reminiscent of Ndebele Art and embellish Munira's work. The artist's most current pieces involves working with wood. She visits local sawmills to source out wood such as yellowwood, redboeken hout, saligna and ironwood. Her script and design is dictated by the shape and size of the wood, which she herself sands down and treats-some "elbow-grease" as she calls it. No two pieces of her work is alike. The chosen technique that is used for executing Munira's art is Pyrography. This is the art of burning design onto wood. Together with exposure to countries in the Middle East, North and West Africa, her work has evolved into what it is today: an expression of her multiple identities.

Munira's gallery is called "Al-Ain", which in Arabic means "The

Mind's Eye".
It is aptly named because she says it is for the individual to interpret an artist's work, and see what is in "their mind's eye”. She says, “I accept my talent as a gift from Allah. Why not use it to glorify His Name?"

Artist Munira Motala …. Studio-al-Ain
Tel: 083 5555 234 / 031 5745486 Add: 28 Riley Road, Essenwood, Durban Facebook page: studio-al-ain

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