A number of resorts now feature artists-in-residence, but Cora Cora is the first husband-wife team plying their creativity in family partnership. I had the fortune to meet Shameen during our recent visit (see photo below) and he told me about his intriguing artistic journey. He and his wife Sheenez shared their story with Maldives Complete:
- How did you get started in art?
I started when I was young. When I was 7 years, my mother asked if I could draw this photo. I started with pencil. At that time, there were no art classes in the school on the local island. In the school, I was sketching on the paper. People asked if I could paint things for them. When I got to Grade 10, I got to be pretty good. There was a competition for the whole Maldives. I had to go into schools. The competition had a theme of Human Rights so we had to to represent things like domestic violence, etc. I received 3rd place. Then I came to Male. I looked for anybody who taught art, but there was nobody. People suggested going abroad, but I didn’t have the money for that. I continued studying diligently and I went to school for business management. I told my mother that I wanted to have 6 months to do what I wanted. I was 17 years old at the time. I spent all my money (500 rufia) to buy art supplies. I didn’t have good Internet so I went to the library to study books about art. I started painting portraits. I got lots of business doing pencil sketches. I study from my heart, because I love to do it. When I was 18, I wanted to do an exhibition, but I didn’t have the money. But someone saw my work who had a boutique at the Male airport. He also had a school and I started teaching at the school. I could paint a painting in under 8 minutes (and people enjoyed watching me do it). I have painted more than 30,000 paintings. At one point, I had to stop painting and I started driving a taxi, when one of the people I drove was the Director of Cora Cora (Martin). During the ride, I showed my work on the phone and he asked me to paint the Cora Cora paintings
- Who are some of your favorite artists and influences?
My wife Sheeneez. She is a good observer so she guides me through making my work more perfect. She has lots of great ideas.
- How did you meet?
When I was 17 years, I went library to gather information for an art class. I saw her in the library and saw this beautiful girl. I fell in love at first sight. So I decided to draw her face and give it to her. On the pictures, I wrote my phone number and gave it to her. She messaged me 6 months later and we have been together ever since.
- How do your styles differ?
I am mastering in Water color, acrylic colour, Oil colour, Pencil color, Airbrush etc Last 10 years I was into all styles of the painting. I am more into realism style and she has a more modern style.
- What is your aspiration?
I’ve opened an art school in Male to teach art to students of all ages. My dream is to grow young artists and give them hope in the art world. We also help with displaying and even marketing their art.
- How did you get started in art?
Sometime after we met, Shameen started a studio downstairs from my father’s store. I started helping him with the studio doing backgrounds, and eventually he taught me more and more about painting.
- Who are some of your favorite artists and influences?
Shameen (obviously!). We teach together at the resort and in Male. I also like Larssen who does lovely dolphins.
- How did you meet?
I had just moved to Male and went to the library with a friend. Within 5 minutes, this young man introduced himself to me.
- Which is your favorite piece done by the Shameen?
A modern painting with lots of colours which was his first painting. This one is very special.
- Which is your favorite piece done by you?
I never painted a person’s face with colour. So one day I decided to try it doing Bob Marley. I was very proud of it. I was surprised at how well it came out.
Kuramathi’s Waheed Saamid pentathlete of a room decorator. He not only pioneered a medium I’ve not seen in my decades of visits, he’s mastered all of its fundamental disciplines:
- Wording (both cut and formed)
- Towel sculpture
- Bubble Bath
- Path/Floor messages (pioneer)
I caught up with him and he shared a bit about his background:
- “I have started room decorations as I began my career as a villa Attendant. Since then I have learned and improving my skills. I’m a self taught decorative. During this journey of a villa Attendant, I have met many creative colleagues in room decorating. I get ideas from my friends and through the internet. Mostly I love doing different types of leaf decorations. Room decoration is an important element of Housekeeping service, to demonstrate my skills and give our guests a little gesture of that we care them.”
His Instagram feed is the most diverse collection of works and I highly recommend following him for your own daily dose of decorating.
For low-miles “buy local” shopping, Faarufushi’s boutique is stocked with items almost entirely sourced from local artists. The miles-friendly range includes jewellery, fabrics, ceramics, and even Maldives themed phone covers. The shop also carried massage oil made from locally produced coconut oil (the same signature oil they use for the resort spa treatments). Many of the products are also featured in the rooms, spa and around the island like the Island Bazaar soft furnishings (see photo above) and the Island Apothecary hand cleanser.
Another impressive line of “local” products is one of the most extensive collections of books about the Maldives I have come across. Not just touristy coffee-table photo books, but histories and novels set in the archipelago. Beach reading about your beach!
Aima Musko and I got way back. When I had just started Maldives Complete and she had just started her career in art. She’s helped me with the website (doing the new logo this past year) and I guess you could say that I helped her as her first customer. I knew that she had been a part of the featured artist series at Kandima, but I hadn’t realised that she had stayed on as an artist-in-residence at the resort until we visited there in July. She caught me up on all the latest and greatest in her artistic exploits as well as her exciting plans for the future. And here in a Maldives Complete exclusive, she is sharing a bit of her creative life on the island of Kandima…
- Which atoll are you from?
G.Dh. Fiyoari (Huvadhoo Atoll) but have always lived in Malè
- What art training have you had?
- Visual Arts in High School at Mahindra United World College of India and Foundation in Visual Communications at The One Academy in Malaysia.
- What is your big frustration as an artist?
- Other than getting easily frustrated as a perfectionist, being limited and restricted as to what can be exhibited here.
- What was the first painting you ever sold (tell us your side of the story)?
- While working at Transparency Maldives in 2011, I was asked to be the artist on a video that was celebrating women and had to make a painting for it. The video “Salhi Anhenun” (Cool Women) was uploaded to YouTube and after a few days I was contacted by the production team saying that they had someone interested in purchasing my painting. I met Bruce at a Cafe in Malè and since that day, I’m so happy to know that my painting has been hanging in his house all the way in UK for the past 7 years!
- What artists have influenced you?
- With Social Media like Instagram, I’m following various artists from all over the world with different mediums and techniques and have been continuously influenced by their styles. However I would say visiting the Art Exhibitions in Malè when I was younger and seeing the works of Artists from Maldives (Afu, Ika and Eagan to name a few) really left a lasting impression on me. Having creative friends and drawing together in school, working in different creative fields.. I’m constantly inspired and influenced.
- What is the biggest misconception about art that you face?
That good art is how realistic you can draw. Also that if you are an artist, you will be good in every aspect of art and the mediums.
- If you could buy one piece of art in the world (money is no object, it could be millions), which one would it be?
A painting by Ika of a Blue lady holding a cigarette that I saw in a house I visited with a friend about a decade ago. It just always stuck with me and I would love to own it for the impact it had on me. The second would be “The Kiss” by Gustavo Klimt.
You can check out her personal online gallery here.
The Maldives keeps developing and getting better and so, we hope, does Maldives Complete. The latest refinement injects an extra bit of authentic Maldivian style and flair to the site with the contributions of up-and-coming artist Aima Musthafa (see photo below) who has redesigned its logo and design palette.
I’ve admired Aima’s work since I first discovered her in the “Cool Women” piece. I’m honoured to have been her very first customer and proud owner of her triptych “Raalhu Girl” (“Raalu” means “wave” in Dhivehi). After going abroad for some art and design studies, she has returned to her home shores to ply her creative brush and was recently was showcased in Kandima’s artist collective.
The Maldives Complete brief was to infuse the look with colour and culture of the Maldives it represented. I wanted to add the Dhivehi words for “Maldives Complete – “Furihama Dhivehi Raajje”. So Aima selected a font that would work well in both languages capturing the dynamic fluidity of the Dhivehi characters.
Part of what drives to me to this hobby is the escapism of immersing myself into the Laccadive world even though I am hunkered down five thousand miles away in damp, chilly England. I’ve always crafted the site to be saturated with local imagery so using it would be like a digital visit to this paradise. I have always used a collection of colours that evokes the vibrant tropical and aquatic tapestry of the destination. Aima formalised this palette some colours more carefully aligned in tone and complementarity (see her notes below). She then blended the native colours into a design similarly melding familiar shapes and forms. The result is a striking new emblem for all complete Maldives appreciation.
The new logo has also been an opportunity for a general cosmetic tidy-up to the site as I had to touch so may main pages. I have aligned some of the graphical elements more precisely and used Aima’s colour palette in place across the pages.
Portraits of the Maldives using a more conventional medium are the latest highlight at Hideaway Beach. The décor in their newly launched Deluxe Sunset Beach Villa features commission by Eagan Badeeu…
“Eagan Badeeu is a prominent local artist and Maldivian national treasure, his works mainly focus on abstract or impressionist seascapes and landscapes”
They have an impressionistic feel with a rich texture, colour and light. His work can also be found at Conrad Rangali.
This weekend kicks off the holiday shopping season in the USA starting with the infamous post-Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’. Guests of Sun Island can get their own jump on filling their Santa sacks with any number of treasures at Azym’s workshop. Azym is the resident artist there and wields his paintbrush in his shop there packed floor to ceiling with pieces such as pictures, bowls, frames and all manner of assorted decorative arts.
I find that local artwork is quite variable in quality not just in the Maldives , but at just about any tourist destination that you visit. Some will be quite amateurish and tawdry pieces, but sometimes you can find some real gems of talent and style. I would definitely class Azym as the latter. He captures the Maldivian blues that are bright but not garish. His depictions are simple without being crude.
And because they are made right there, so you can order something customised as a special memento to your stay and favourite memories. A certain part of the island or vista perhaps.
Happy Mothers Day!
Mothers Day is celebrated on whole range of days in different countries around the world, but it is celebrated on the ‘India Sub-Continent’ today (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka). The holiday has roots in the Roman festival of Hilaria where the ‘Earth Goddess’ was celebrated on the final day of the vernal equinox festival (spring finally sprung!).
It is also celebrated in the USA today where my own mother lives. The ‘traditional’ American ritual includes breakfasts in bed, homemade cards and a break from traditional chores as children (and husbands) try to chip to give Mom a break for one 24 hour period.
It seemed appropriate to post on ‘Cool Women’, which was created for International Women’s Day earlier this year, on this more traditional day of honouring women. My mother, Marjorie Lynn, is also a ‘Cool Woman’ in very much the spirit of the video. She ran a YWCA which provided support programmes for women including a women’s shelter and a number of outreach and community initiatives. Mom has always been a rather outspoken activist for well-being and capabilities of women with all the strength of Aemii Musko’s wave (see above).