Hessa Al Ajmani

Visual artist & ceramicist

Statement

 Al Ajmani’s sculptural installation emerges from her year-long research of the UAE’s native flora and fauna as well as her continuous love for experimentation with unconventional mediums to create her work. ‘Anzaroot,’ a medicinal plant-based resin that was typically found in early Emirati herbal healers’ apothecaries, is Al Ajmani’s main ingredient for her unique medium. The substance was used until recently to bind and heal bone fractures, typically mixed with eggwhites and water to create a strong cast that retains its moisture on the inside to seep into the skin. Using the original anzaroot recipe, Al Ajmani created her own strong sculptural medium by introducing newer forms of healing using plaster.


The loss of habitat in the Arabian Peninsula has been one of the major causes of the endangerment of native species, making areas that were once rich in life, like the Hajar Mountains, now sparse and deficient in natural plant and animal population. The Arabian Leopard is listed as one of the most endangered animals on the ‘red list’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with less than 200 wild leopards remaining in the Arabian Peninsula. The Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah (EPAA) had committed to sponsoring wildlife breeding programs aimed at bringing back the Arabian Leopard to UAE’s wilderness. Al Ajmani’s subject of focus is decidedly the Hajar Mountains just as much as it is on the Arabian Leopard, being inspired by her long trips across the mountains of Fujairah and Ras Al Khaima in an effort to connect with the Arabian Leopard and its native habitat.


Using anzaroot to demonstrate the reclaiming of the Hajar Mountains by the Arabian Leopard, Al Ajmani signified the healing and coming back to life of the species by using a combination of old and new medicinal techniques. The relationship between the anzaroot and the Arabian Leopard is especially strong considering that the substance was commonly used in the UAE during a time when the species was most likely still dwelling in the Hajar Mountains. Flesh and Bone, Fur and Stone is created using many rosette-like anzaroot ‘mountains,’ placed together in a way to hint at the appearance of the rosettes on a leopard’s fur, while altogether come to represent the Hajar Mountain chain that runs from the North Eastern tip of the UAE to the South Eastern tip of Oman.

Flesh and Bone, Fur and Stone

2017

Sculptural Installation

Anzaroot and plaster cast, foil stuffing, bandage

130 cm x 200 cm