Awareness and knowledge about climate changes and ecological imbalance have fast been increasing around the world as more and more people are raising their voices for the need of a sustainable lifestyle and environment-friendly energy sources.
There are people who follow and use innovative and eco-friendly ways to support sustainable lifestyles and to preserve the ecological balance. Soumia Masmoudi is one such creative person whose aim is to explore and use art as an opportunity to build cultural resources and to support the local ecological balance.
An architect by profession and artist by passion, Soumia has long developed a particular interest about the natural environment and local resources. She uses art as a manifestation of her love for nature and uses it as means to promote sustainable lifestyle.
Based in Qatar since 2017, Soumia has a university degree in architecture and urbanisation. She has however made her mark as a sustainable artist using eco-friendly techniques and materials to create different kinds of art. She also founded ‘Future Vision Sustainable Art’ in collaboration with Qatar Green Building Council in 2019 to organise exhibitions mainly showcasing sustainable art.
Her artworks have been exhibited in Vietnam, China and Qatar. In Qatar, she has participated in different events and exhibitions at Katara Art Centre, Sheikh Faisal Museum, eco-school events, malls and hotels. In 2019, during the Sustainable Week, she organised an exhibition with the name of ‘Botanical Art.’ Its second edition is about ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Living’.
“Though I have background in architecture and design, I always have interest in ecology, landscape, and permaculture designs. My love for nature started when I was child. I grew up in areas surrounded with trees. I saw my grandmother growing her own garden and the sustainable life she had. I always had interest in everything linked to design and colours. I am curious about every sustainable process,” said the artist while speaking about how she got attracted towards nature.
Soumia finds a direct link between art and architecture. I am an architect but have interest in agricultural landscape. Food is our first relationship with nature. This brings me to work on cultural sides. I bring meaning to food through my art. One of the series is all about my Mediterranean memories.”
Environment as a subject for her art creation came naturally to Soumia and it was not her choice. “It gets very boring for me to see how architecture, cities and urbanisation are growing. I come from the areas where people were generally very resilient during difficult times and they have the wisdom of being related to their environment. Whatever happened around them, they would always find some solution through there inside and outside resources.”
The artist is very experimental with the techniques and materials she uses for her creative works. “I enjoy the process. Sometime, I enjoy the process more than the final result. I like developing my own paper from waste food. My ink and colours also come from natural sources. I also have interest in techniques of making things with hands. I like weaving. When I was in Vietnam, I went to a village to observe bamboo-weaving. I closely observed how they do it and choose the patterns. I was very curious about this process. I then try to bring it to modernity. We have the process of making things in natural ways in our cultures. We need to bring it to modernity.”
Soumia’s material for creative art is mostly based on waste food. “I use watermelon skin as leather. I transform it. There are already some patterns and shapes on the watermelon skin. My ink comes from tea, coffee, hibiscus and black rice water. There is a process that I follow in my kitchen. I have spare space for my laboratory in my kitchen.”
Soumia wants to raise awareness about sustainable lifestyle through her artwork. “We need to be aware of the sustainable lifestyle and our resources. I have seen lots of cultures and countries. It is always very authentic and beautiful when it is sustainable. Everything comes from land and nobody can bring solutions to our problems from outside. For me, sustainability is really cultural and contextual.”
The architect sees Qatar making progress towards sustainable living. “There is increasing awareness about sustainability. Both people and the government are keen about promoting culture of sustainability here.”