Nawwar Shukriah Ali
Recognition for this self-explanatory expression has grown in leaps and bounds, and Nawwar Shukriah Ali is the ambassador who’s deploying several disciplines to realise her visions. Now that it’s easier than ever before to be connected and informed on any subject, Nawwar’s work is comfortably ambivalent, yet each piece is a novel discipline, juxtaposed but never dissolved into one another.
YOU’VE WORKED UNDER THE BONO STELLAR NAME BEFORE, WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?
Back in university I used to wear these funky sunglasses like Bono from U2, and so my friends started calling me that. And Stellar is from a brand I started in 2010, named after a song from (rock band) Incubus. I used Bono Stellar until I started my own Instagram account. I decided to use my real name because it is really unique. It means ‘cahaya’ or light in Arabic, while Shukriah then translates to ‘grateful’, so it definitely has a nice meaning to it.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU GONE THROUGH OVER THE LAST YEAR?
With Covid-19 shutting down almost everything, I decided to focus on myself. I got into hypnotherapy and really started facing my own issues and getting to know myself. I knew I had always used ‘work’ as an escape. It was really intense, and I used to have nightmares and be depressed for weeks, and this helped me confront the source of that. It might sound like a cliché, but it has given me a lot of inner peace.
AND HOW DID THAT AFFECT YOUR ART?
I’ve never been comfortable calling myself an artist. I come from an architectural background, so I’ve been trained to constantly seek structure and balance. But my work is generally about healing and offering a sense of hope for the future. It might look colourful, but in reality it’s a projection of my darkness.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?
I became an orphan at 17 when I lost my mum. My dad who was also an architect died before I was born. Since then I have always had to rely on myself. Still I got to travel all over, meet incredible people as well as be in amazing spaces like artists studios. I mean life can be surreal and the most important thing is to embrace who you are, and that nothing is impossible. Don’t be another version of someone else, but at the same time, don’t be afraid of reaching out and learning from others.
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING FOR YOU?
I would love to display my work abroad. I want to do huge outdoor installations, the types that interact with people.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.
For me it all starts as a sketch on paper. I try to balance different perspectives but not to be overly calculated in my approach. Some of the people I love include James Turrell for his light installations and Michel Gondry for his music videos. I want people to see beyond the canvas and understand that there are limitless possibilities in creation. Personally I see myself as being between the absolute freedom of art and the structure of architecture. It really does give you a unique perspective.