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Tashkeel presents ‘Cairo Illustrated: Stories from Heliopolis’ by Nora Zeid

Egyptian visual artist Nora Zeid’s first solo exhibition opens at Tashkeel on September 14

As part of Tashkeel’s 2021 Autumn Season, the exhibition titled ‘Cairo Illustrated: Stories from Heliopolis‘ opens tomorrow, September 14, 2021. Presented by visual artist Nora Zeid, the showcase marks her debut solo exhibition, rendered as black-and-white illustrations that explore the bustling Egyptian city around the themes of memory, tourism and infrastructure.

‘Cairo Illustrated: Stories from Heliopolis’ is Zeid’s ode to the often-overlooked intricacies of her hometown, depicted through digital and hand-drawn illustrations. The exhibition also marks the 13th public outcome of Tashkeel’s Critical Practice Programme since its inception in 2014 and the conclusion of its 2020 edition.

Over the past year, Zeid researched regional perceptions through illustration, design and psychology, exploring how one might change the narrative of stereotypes and provide a new perspective that could change behavioural development. She was mentored in this endeavour by the leading design professional, researcher and educator Ghalia Elsrakbi and Hala Al Ani, Möbius Design Studio co-founder, Tashkeel member and lecturer at the American University of Sharjah.

Driven by a desire to re-establish her relationship with the city of Cairo, Zeid gathered memories from the neighbourhoods. She found that each memory was tied to the next by space, adding a virtual layer of historical facts to these personal experiences. This created a duality, between the personal and the general, the small and the big picture, making the topic of heritage more accessible.

Zeid said: “To walk in a busy street of Cairo is to have your senses saturated and overwhelmed as you scramble to process the immense amount of data before your senses. Every inch of the city demands your constant, and undivided attention. My practice is driven by a desire to re-establish my relationship with Cairo through close observation. In order to understand my hometown better, I wanted to bring the bustling city to a momentary standstill.”

Nora explains that her illustrations freeze intimate moments in space and time, with the black-and-white aesthetic simplifying scenes and allowing the city’s complex tapestry to shine. “As buildings, objects and people fade into the distance, they become more and more abstracted, blending into the rich and complex texture of the cityscapes depicted.”

‘Cairo Illustrated: Stories from Heliopolis’ will run at the gallery in Tashkeel Nad Al Sheba 1, Dubai from September 14 to October 23, 2021. The exhibition opens from 10am to 10pm daily, except Fridays and public holidays. Admission is free. Advance booking is required via email or by contacting +971 4 336 3313.

For details on the programme, the exhibition and the tours, please visit


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