Form, Fashion and Flowers by Arwa Turra
When Arwa Turra moved to Jamaica with her family from Dubai in 2013, the tropical foliage of her adopted upper St Andrew home was a breath of fresh air from the arid Arabian Desert.
The full-time mother of two, artist and crafter by hobby; and an interior designer by profession, wanted to fuse all her talents and skills to create something new. "My art with flowers is my newly discovered passion, and I thought of fusing three of my talents and came up with this unique form of artwork. As an interior designer, I have a background in architecture drawings; being a hard-core fashion lover I always love to design dresses; and with my love for flower craft, I thought of using them on my fashion sketches." Fusing all her loves was the beginning of 'Form, Fashion and Flowers by Arwa Turra'.
A year on and Turra is just as passionate about her art form as when she started. She explained, "I draw architecture or interior in the backdrop with a fashion illustration or sketch of a lady in the front and then I design her dress using the ready or handmade silk flowers which I stick on the canvas or the paper. The silk flowers add another dimension to my art pieces making them look 3D." But there is more than what meets the eye with Turra's pieces - each item tells a story. "Whenever I display my art, the story is always written alongside so that the viewer understands the story in the art and this is how I can convey my thoughts to them. I don't want them to just appreciate the colours or flowers or the sketches. My idea is to convey the entire story behind it," she explained.
What inspired such an illustrious art form? "When my daughter was born three years ago, I became fond of flowers. I used to look for flowers in her dresses, hair clips, room decor and almost everything that belonged to her. Eventually I started making my own flower hair clips for her and this is how I learnt flower making with the help of online videos." Her passion grew, "Then I wanted to move ahead and do something different with these flowers. Fashion designing was always a passion I had, even when I was studying to become an interior designer, I used to look at the projects of my friends who were pursuing fashion designing, I always wanted to do something in that direction- and my flowers provided me the opportunity. So then I thought about doing the drawings of the world famous architectures, including fashion and flowers in it. This is how I gave birth to this art form."
Initially, Turra used handmade flowers but eventually started using ready-made flowers because of the variety available and her realising that the use of flowers in fashion is her signature style which is what she wanted to show the world - not the flower making. "My art is about the story of a girl/ lady/ woman dressed in flowers, living in some part of the world which is shown by the iconic architecture of that place."
The self taught-artist who is simply trying to share her passion is not making these pieces for commercial purposes. "I have never tried hard to sell them, but I always like to share the story of each of my pieces." As such her target market are people who try to understand the art, read and sense the story of the composition and feel that they are in love with it and want to dress their walls with IT. "When someone appreciates the thought and effort behind my pieces it really excites me and motivates me to do more."
Today, Turra's pieces are available at Island Art and Framing, Olympia Art Gallery and F & B Downtown (Swiss Stores). She has also done a series of greeting cards using the same concept and those are now available at Profumo Boutique in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.
When asked what's next for Form, Fashion and Flowers, Turra said she is just going with the flow, but very cautiously. "I think making it more commercial might just kill the passion but you never know what the future has in store. I am willing to take up anything which excites me. When I started I never thought about the greeting cards but it really gave me a wonderful opportunity one, to do varieties in my art and second, to take it to a broader audience which would have never been possible with the big canvas.
What's next is more countries on my canvas and more stories to be told!"