Australian Needlepoint Artist's Exquisite Book Celebrates Islamic Architecture

Geoff Sirmai | 27-Oct-2021
An Australian artist has published an exquisite new book which illuminates her work and - in turn - celebrates world Islamic architecture and mosaics. In an international first, Sydney-based needlepoint artist Natalie Fisher’s Ghorzah has won immediate acclaim in the Islamic world where her work has been embraced wholeheartedly.
Australian Needlepoint Artist's Exquisite Book Celebrates Islamic Architecture
Ghorzah - cover
Ghorzah is the Arabic word for ‘stitch’ and was the name of Natalie’s first international exhibition – in Sharjah, UAE, in 2017. This book charts her exotic, mind-expanding journey over the past decade - through Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan - to illustrate how Islamic architecture and decorative tile work has been used to inspire contemporary needlepoint tapestry. It also includes hands-on instructions for a modest, achievable project for readers - inspired by floral motifs from the giant carpet that adorns the main prayer hall in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

“What Natalie has done is something that I have never seen before… a leap of the imagination and a cultural legacy translated for new audiences.” – Dr Sam Bowker, Senior Lecturer in Art History & Visual Culture, Charles Sturt University.

Natalie was already an experienced needlepoint artist and designer when she first experienced zellige, the complex mosaic tile designs popular in Morocco and the rest of Islamic North Africa. This sent her on a quest to discover Islamic architectural patterns and interpret them with wool embroidery. Natalie takes the reader on a tour of some of her favourite and most inspirational buildings, showing the designs, the way locals interact with the architecture and even the zellige artisans at work. She combines this with images and stories of her work - and of herself at work - laying the inspiration and interpretation side by side.

Launched online in September to a viewing audience that stretched across 20 countries, Ghorzah is a beautifully glossy 106-page photo journal of Natalie’s travels and the gorgeous work it inspired. Already sold in Norway, Netherlands, Chile, USA, UK, Italy, Canada, the UAE and Australia, it has been met with enthusiastic reviews including by Middle East textile writer Ansie Van Der Walt, who hailed it as “a visual feast”.

“Natalie has an affinity for photography equaling her natural talent for interpreting her surroundings into stitch. Every image is not just laden with sumptuous colour and pattern, but also with emotion and passion. This book is about needlepoint embroidery… Islamic architecture and the way Natalie combines the two to create something completely new and unique. But it is also about stitching: Ghorzah. Not just stitching threads onto canvas, but stitching that joins cultures together, stitching that joins people. By taking two separate things and creating art, Natalie has created work - and a book - that is more than the sum of its parts.” – from The Fabric Thread

Natalie Fisher is a self-taught needlepoint artist who practises under her company name Artweave Originals.

She has exhibited her work in galleries, museums and mosques in Australia and the United Arab Emirates and has been published in Inspirations magazine, Islamic Arts and Textile Fibre Forum. She creates site-specific commission pieces and a range of works for sale. Natalie has recently started working on collaborative projects with multidisciplinary teams in regional Australia with culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

She is currently negotiating an international distribution deal with UAE-based book distributors.

GHORZAH – ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE IN NEEDLEPOINT

Author: Natalie Fisher. Publisher: Artweave Originals 2021
Designer: Pro Bono Publico. Photographer: Natalie Fisher and others
Size: 230 x 270 x 8mm (9” x 10.65” x 0.32”) Binding: Softcover. Pages: 106
Colour: full colour throughout. 90+ full colour images
Stock: Cover 300gsm gloss art. Text 150gsm matt art
Finishing: Gloss celloglaze outside from and back covers
RRP: AUD$59. Free shipping within Australia. $30 internationally
ISBN: 978-0-6452332-0-9 For purchase & info visit www.artweave.com.au

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