Gazan painter makes art with henna

An artist in Gaza is using henna to create a series of stunning drawings of historically important sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Painting with a paper cone filled with henna, 36-year-old Fatima al-Ghoul brings historic and religious monuments to life on canvas as a way to express her thoughts about the Palestinian cause.

“Since henna is part of our culture, we chose to draw these Palestinian cities in henna, because the color of henna is the closest color to mud. I specifically drew the Palestinian cities and the refugee camps because we are working on a project to make an album about the Palestinian cause. This album contains the refugee camps and the historical Palestinian,” explained al-Ghoul, who’s been painting with henna for the past eight years.

She works closely with Suheil Atta-Allah, who supervises her project and markets her paintings, which are sold for between $500 to $2,000 each.

The Gazan artist says she tries to be prolific but faces the same impediments as others living in Gaza, including a shortage in painting materials and constant power cuts.

“In the beginning, we faced difficulties in choosing the fabrics and the henna. We reached this result for painting after several attempts. One of the difficulties I face is physical exhaustion, it is really exhausting to sit and keep painting for four to five hours a day. I also face difficulties in obtaining henna. It is not always available on the market. The constant electricity cut also has an impact on how long it takes me to finish the painting,” al-Ghoul added.

Electricity blackouts disrupts the daily life in Gaza and cripples businesses, as many stores reduce working hours to save on spending, and families have to reschedule social events to whenever power is on.

Fatima is working towards a gallery exhibition in 2020, which will be entitled ‘Earth and Henna’ with a specific focus on the plight of Palestinians and their cause.