- Author: Natalie Fisher
- Photographer: Natalie Fisher
- Publisher: Self-published. Designed by Pro Bono Publico.
Format & layout
- 230 x 270 x 8 mm (9″ x 10.65″ x 0.32”
- 106 pages
- ISBN 978-0-6452332-0-9
- Text and images on a white background
Photos, Illustrations & Diagrams
This book is a visual feast. From the delicious blue and burnt orange image on the front cover through to the indulgent back cover, the images perfectly illustrate the subtitle of the book – Islamic Architecture in Needlepoint. Natalie has an affinity for photography equaling her natural talent for interpreting her surroundings into stitch. Every image is not just laden with sumptuous colour and pattern, but also with emotion and passion. It is impossible to page through this book without feeling Natalie’s affinity for both Islamic designs and her needlepoint craft.
Every spread is filled with colour and patterns. Some, just to inspire and convey the atmosphere of being surrounded by rich and opulent tiled courtyards, others to share Natalie’s process and interpretation of what she sees around her. All of it allows the reader a glimpse into the mind and heart of the artist and author.
Ghorzah is the Arabic word for Stitch as well as the name of Natalie’s first exhibition in the Middle East at the 20th Sharjah Islamic Art Exhibition in 2017-18. Natalie was already an experienced needlepoint artist and designer when she first experienced zellige, the complex mosaic tile designs popular in Morocco and the rest of Islamic North Africa. This changed the trajectory of her art practice, sending her on a quest to discover Islamic architectural patterns and designs and interpret them with wool embroidery.
The book follows Natalie’s path of inspiration and discovery, starting in Morocco where she first discovered zellige. The similarities between the painstaking and time-consuming nature of these mosaic designs and her own needlepoint craft compelled her to interpret these designs in stitch.
Natalie takes the reader on a tour of some of her favourite and most inspirational buildings revealed in a way that draws the reader in. Showing not only the designs but the way the local people interact with the architecture and even the zellige artisans at work. She combines this with images and stories of her work and her at work, laying the inspiration and the interpretation side by side.
Her work in Morocco led to an invitation to participate in the 20th Sharjah Islamic Art Exhibition. The book follows Natalie’s journey to Sharjah – the UNESCO Cultural Capital of Islamic Culture – in the UAE. In this chapter, Natalie shares her first foray into three dimensional and large scale work as well as her work with Arabic calligraphy. She also shares her return to floral designs inspired by the floral carpet in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the largest handwoven carpet in the world.
In the next chapter, we follow Natalie to Uzbekistan where she finds inspiration in the architecture and design aesthetic of the Silk Road. Here the mosaic designs move away from the geometric patterns seen in Morocco to more organic and Arabesque designs influenced by Persia. Natalie shares how these tiled buildings inspired a new series of large-scale embroideries.
In the last part of the book, Natalie discusses her techniques and the practicalities of her work and she also includes a simple stitch project inspired by the floral carpet in The Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
I first became aware of Natalie’s work when I saw it at the Sharjah Islamic Art Festival. It exuded warmth and an emotional connection to Islamic design but also to architecture and embroideries which I was immediately drawn to. Since then I have communicated with Natalie about her work a few times and wrote several articles about it.
I have been to the places she takes us to in Morocco and the UAE, and I knew her work before I laid my hands on this book so I feel a certain familiarity with it, yet I find this book gives new insight into her work and the inspiration behind her work.
This insight stems from the delightful photography and the obvious way in which Natalie connects to, not only the places but to the people who inhabit these places. The book is filled with human connection, the style of writing is warm and personal, and the images shows off Natalie’s work in a personal and intimate way.
This book is about Needlepoint embroidery; it is about Islamic architecture; it is about the way Natalie combines the two to create something completely new and unique. But it is about more than that. It is about Stitching – Ghorzah. Not just stitching threads onto canvas, but stitching that joins cultures together, stitching that joins people together. By taking two separate things and creating art, Natalie has created work, and a book, that is more than the sum of its parts.
Order your copy here.
More on Moroccan art and craft
- Artist Profile: Natalie Fisher
- Artist Profile: Amina Agueznay
- Book review: Women Artisans of Morocco by Susan Schaefer Davis
- Amazigh Jewellery
- Moroccan embroidery
- Moroccan carpet styles
- Moroccan Buttons
- Podcast: Jess Stephens talks about Moroccan Buttons