Art with a Mediterranean Flavor

Tuesday August 21, 2018                By: Alexandra Kinias

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There is a special bond between coastal cities and their residents. A connection familiar to those who grew up in one, especially on the Mediterranean coast, where along its shores lies the city of Alexandria, as unique as its founder.

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Alexandria is not an ordinary coastal city. It’s the first city Alexander the Great founded outside his homeland, and gave it his name.  Its long corniche, sandy beaches, picturesque sunsets, cool breezes and endless blue horizon define its character and that of its people. From Alexandria Cleopatra also ruled over the ancient world. It was her pride and joy. Centuries later, Rodaina Tarek was born is the same spot. A pure Alexandrian at heart, Tarek reflects the originality of her city in the unique artwork she produces.

“Living in a coastal city, I feel like I can truly connect with the sea. These little pieces of decor are all made from driftwood I’ve found on the shores of Alexandria. The cool thing about them is that each creation turns out super unique because no two pieces of wood are ever exactly the same.”  Tarek wrote on her Facebook page.

35932330_1014767198673633_3573560837794693120_nTarek expressed to us her dismay with the pieces of driftwood and marine debris washed up from the sea. After giving it a thought, she decided to clean the shore from such debris. She went along with a friend and collected as many pieces of driftwood as they could in plastic bags, “without thinking about what to do with them.” She took them home, washed and dried them. “I played with the wood and explored its potential, and was able to shape a small house.”

This was the beginning of her driftwood art collection. She shapes and paints the wooden pieces, while maintaining their original form. She calls her collections “Little Alexandrias from the Heart of the Sea.” She emphasizes that each piece is unique as she works with whatever shapes and sizes she finds, and “no two pieces are identical.”

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Tarek enjoys working with driftwood. “These little pieces of decor from driftwood I’ve found on the shore just bring me so much joy! From beach visits, to collecting different bits of wood, to shaping, drilling, etc. It’s all so much fun.”

The nautical-themed home decor pieces are the last addition to Tarek’s artwork, but that’s not only what she crafts. Tarek also likes to paint, sew, sculpt dolls, and “play around with as many art media as she can.”

36789699_1028915497258803_142864051217629184_nShe started her small business Roudi’s in 2011, during the curfew. She was still in high school. “I had so much time at hand staying home in the evenings [for almost two months], so I started a small business. I made and sold cards and polymer clay jewelry.” Roudi’s has grown since then, as Tarek managed the business while in college.  She graduated last year with a BA in English literature. As her business grew, it developed into “a space for all sorts of handmade goodness.” Her products include ribbon embroidery hoops, stuffed toys, jewelry, “you name it, I make it!” She said.

Tarek has had her work featured in many exhibitions in Alexandria and other cities around Egypt. And what is most amazing is that she is a self-taught artist. It often gets a little exhausting for the young artist, since her business is a one-person show. She takes the orders, executes them and ships them, which often leaves her little time for herself. When asked how she feels about that, she said, “Honestly with all the exposure I’ve been getting since the launching of the latest product line, I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed! I have been receiving tens of messages from people, institutes, and even T.V shows and reporters, who are all encouraging and supporting me. It’s things like this that make all my efforts worth it. It’s things like this that make me believe that my art has a purpose and a meaning.”

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Managing the business by herself has not been easy though, but running it for many years now Tarek has found her rhythm and “everything just glides into schedule.” Often times than not she finds herself, “up to my eyeballs in making, photographing, marketing, and delivering, all while keeping everything else in my life up and running.” However, she finds her efforts and hard work worthwhile the minute she receives a happy review from a satisfied customer.

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“Nothing screams ACCOMPLISHED better than a woman who works on her own thing. Be it art, cooking, technology, music, writing, or dragon-hunting, if you set your mind to it, you’re going to get there. They key is to believe that what you have to offer for the world is indeed of great importance,” Tarek concluded.

All photos credit to Rodaina Tarek

Check Roudi’s Facebook page here 

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