Oman is a relatively peaceful country, proud of its cultural past and developing a tourist industry. Although lots of money was wasted by Sultan Qaboos who is lambasted in the book, there seems to be little political repression and Omani women have a lot of freedom. The main concern is what will happen when Qaboos dies – he has no heir, nor has he groomed a clear successor, or set up a strong democratic system.
Colours: browns, reds, oranges
Shape dynamics: texture, curved like mosque and sea waves
Materials: woodcut and ink blobs
- Sultan Qaboos
Experimenting with blobs and textures
Page 1 Title
This page was composited from woodcuts and sketches, layered in Photoshop using different blend modes. The font used is Trajan Pro with bevel and emboss. I like the Font as it gives a fairy tale feel. I like the general woodcut fairy tale feel of the image, and also the impression of looking out. But I need to think through the imagery more – I think there should be some more shocking images to contrast with the picturesque scenes – probably hidden under the veil/ building interior on the right.
Pages 2, 3, 4 and 5: Imperial history and slavery
Oman has a very old culture from prehistoric settlements, through the Ottoman Empire and were independent for quite a bit of that time as the main power on the peninsula. Much of the economy was based on slave trade, as well as fishing and pearls. The British were totally complicit in oppression – supporting tyrants in order to maintain their access to Straits of Hormuz, and trade routes with India and East Africa.
I wanted to make these pages feel old. I crumpled the pages and soaked them and splattered them with coffee – I like the coffee smell. Coffee is the main traditional luxury drink here. I also looked for old maps, Portuguese and British maritime flags and emblems and wood engravings of slavery along this coast. I used deep red acrylic ink, and bronze, copper and gold touches to reflect the imperial past.
I am not quite sure how I will bind these pages – I had intended to laminate the whole booklet with matt laminate sheets, but I really like the old coffee smelling fragility of these pages. So I may try and use a thin cloth edge and stitching underneath some of the collage. As noted elsewhere the margins of the book were very narrow, so where I want to maintain the original printed text I have no control over the margins.
Pages 6 and 7
Here the British became much more in control – supporting the oppressive Sa’id bin Taimur. Their main concern was maintaining control, with a Lawrence of Arabia romanticism and indifference to his extreme cruelty. Their main concern was that he was not interested in spending money.
In these pages I wanted to give this impression of a sort of Arab fairyland of warring tribes, but countered by the bizarre instances of cruelty and torture.
The image at the bottom of the page was printed on distressed paper from an OHP slide print from a scan of a blob painting. This had formed itself through dripped acrylic ink on top of and underneath a laminated slide. I had to crop and scan it to maintain the contrast between the slave’s head and background. I like the random and rather comic fish at the top, and the ambiguity of whether the slave swimmer is throwing a fish to the whale, and the fire texture on the bottom left/
The focus here is on the dreamy landscape with collaged gold-painted tissue paper, camel woodcut print and dreamy inkblots printed on distressed paper. Much of this was from outcuts of accidental ink blots as I worked on other things.
Pages 8 and 9
Here the cruelty and neglect starts to be really horrific.
Page 8 collages key text cut into figure shapes onto a page with dripped acrylic ink and condensed watercolour. I really like the way the colours intermingle in different ways. Then the small ‘sultan in his lair’ in the middle.
This technique also produced alternative crops that can be printed as backdrops for other purposes eg page 12 below.
This page uses similar drip techniques with reprinted collaged text. I really like the distorted figures of the women, and the wormlike heads. It feels very violent – which indeed the situation was. The image at the bottom is a print of another accidental drip painting. I like the way it is not quite clear what is happening – but one can imagine many possibilities relating to the text.
The original versions of the image found for the bottom of page 9.
Probably also several pages will be inserted here with details of what Sultan Qaboos did. But this has to complement the Ally card for Qaboos. This still needs to be done.
The main conclusion from my reading about Qaboos is that there has been a lot of development like reasonably open education etc. But he very much controls the reins. He does seem to be genuine as a social reformer. He has also cracked down on corruption. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch do not find much repression.
The main question is who will succeed when Qaboos dies. It is rumoured Qaboos himself is gay. Although he is married, with only one wife, they have no heir. He does not seem to have really brought up anyone to take over, not has he established any strong democratic system.
Qaboos and improvements in women’s position – even a woman’s football team though I am not sure about women pilots as in UAE. Omani women seem generally ‘softer’ and less radical. I used photos on the wallpaper background. I like the tourist with her face mask.
Qaboos has also done a lot on the environment as part of the tourist promotion. This has developed significantly since
Page 14 End page
I overlaid textured tissue paper over this tourist photo. The image bottom left in reality does look like the parrot in the anecdote of the awful American tourists.
Some other images I may use for page borders or backdrops.