by WAFAA AL ABRI
Mandala is a joyful form of art and a culture of spiritual practices, which offers a therapeutic effect that brings order back to life. Mandalas are circular designs that represent the never-ending cycle of life, it represents wholeness, a cosmic diagram reminding us of our relation to infinity, deep within ourselves and minds. This spiritual and ritual symbol can be found in Hinduism and Buddhism, and it represents the universe. The beauty of this art has inspired Firdaus Shafi, an Omani artist, to be part of it. She participated in the Arab Artists Fingerprint Forum in Egypt earlier this year and has started her own project of selling Mandalas called ‘Firdaus Passion’. Oman Magazine had a quick interview with the artist to talk about her craft.
Why did you choose to learn the art of Mandala?
I chose this art because it is completely different and unique from other art forms. When I started drawing mandala for the first time, I felt that it is my new passion. It makes me more positive and calm because it requires a high level of focus for such small details.
For how long have you been practising this art?
I have been practising for about four years, participating in exhibitions and art events and now conducting art classes in the basics of the mandala. In a short amount of time, I thankfully became one of the first mandala artists to be recognised in Oman.
How do you feel while drawing a mandala piece, what emotions come to the surface? Actually, I forget everything while drawing mandalas, especially when I feel stressed. All the negative emotions go away the minute I start shaping the design or colouring it. When I create mandalas, I think of it as an echo of my soul, it can highly enrich the personal experience. I use colours and patterns to represent my current state of mind. In fact, I can’t describe my feelings, it’s just a mixture of joy, freedom of expression and creativity.
You have mentioned that you conduct workshops, tell us more about it and are you thinking of adopting the project full-time?
Well, I started doing some workshops to teach the basics of the mandala. It was a great decision and a step to take as an artist, it is important to educate people and let them know more about this art.
In 2017, I conducted my first workshop ‘Basics of Mandala Art’ for one day. It was a good experience for me as it allowed me to trust my abilities and befriend the other participants. I also organised another workshop at Al Sahwah Park. This year I’ll continue to teach art classes but on a smaller scale. The idea of adopting it as a full-time project is one of my future plans in this field.
Which one of your paintings is your favourite and why?
My favourite painting is ‘The Pride of Oman’ one of my latest detailed mandala paintings that first appeared in the 22nd Youth Annual Exhibition for Fine Arts 2018, at the Omani Society for Fine Arts in December, which attracted public attention. In fact, it’s my favourite one because it took me around two to three months to finish it. I feel that I have made a great effort in creating and painting the piece, and it is one of my biggest mandala artworks to date. I also brought a new idea of mixing mandala with modern calligraphy art, which made it a unique combination. Its main idea was to showcase the traditional Omani pendent in a modern way.
What are your future plans?
Every year I put a list of goals and plans for my career as an artist. Some of my plans for this year is to increase the number of workshops and perhaps go beyond Muscat and reach more places around the country. Also, I am planning to participate in more art exhibitions, where I can showcase my talent and meet great artists, as well as going for international art competitions I will also be working on my online store and hopefully open an art gallery for selling and showcasing mandala artworks and other artistic creations.