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‘The Geography of the Date’

ink on paper, A3, A5


This drawing series explores topics such as cultural exchange, successive generations, cultural practices, traditional hospitality, social sharing and the space and place of the date fruit in Saudi society in the form of narratives and stories.


These rapid drawings are daily sketches aimed at understanding, finding answers or finding something interesting in all the meanings, questions and thinking about my subject – the traditional notion of hospitality. Day by day, I was drawing without any specific plan, just trying to do all that; it was like the key which helped me to delve deeper into the idea and understand what I want to convey through my work and my research. 


The movements of the date between all these elements create relationships which give a sense of its value in this society through the way in which it moves from one day to the next, the micro and macro images of the date shift in scale and form of abstraction, which can appeared to be the shape of a mountain, a home, a shelter and then back to the individuality. 


The pattern of characters which appeared in these sketches builds this journey which shifts the reality of the scale of the date and the human beings, and this makes me feel that the practices will continue until they stop.


These drawing made me see that the culture of hospitality is not just about food or gifts or generosity, but is also about its practices, the culture which helped to build and continue the relationships, collaborations and connections which have been a duty of hospitality for keeping the world as one village.


I think that it could be fascinating to see this turn into a large-scale animation which goes from figuration to abstraction and back again, which works through all of these different aspects, because I seem to go from sort of my knowledge to figuration to abstraction, and there appears to be something driving that; I think that this could translate this well.

 This is a bit obscure: it is not clear what you mean.  Whose individuality? Yours, as the artist? The date ads a symbol of hospitality? The person who gives dates to guests?

A2 Ink in paper 

Fahd Al-Naima

Fahd Al-Naima’s drawings (see Figure 17) focus on one of the cultural symbols in Saudi Arabia: camels. They reflect the legacy, culture and close relationship between Saudi humans and animals which exemplifies the Saudi heritage and the desert. The strong and explicit line used by the artist reflects the depth of this relationship as a shorthand symbol to result in a group of lines, shapes and elements which express the culture, history and cultural practices which are related to it. Naima's work has always inspired me by its rapid, strong and direct drawing in which I find a strong link with my drawings of dates and their geographical characteristics. I think that for me and for al Naima, our drawings present the lived experience, a denomination of history and culture in the most extreme stage of its abstract and reduction, which helps us to understand and represent these samples, shapes and culture well. It continues to inspire me to expand the scope of my work and delve more deeply into the date component of hospitality and everything associated with it.

Fahd Al-Naima’s drawing

Julie Mehretu

several different psycho-geographies. The huge-scale drawings which Julie Mehretu creates have inspired me to extend my drawing to create a narrative from the history of hospitality through the relations and practices associated with the date. This aspect will enrich my drawing language, summarize what I know and preserve the knowledge associated with my research concept, which I am very interested in sharing with the audience. I think that the experience of drawing on huge spaces is one of the projects which I want to address in the future but I want to do this through the concept of societal engagement which can be represented by creating social spaces through sharing drawings by participants of different ages in ways which can create harmony and forge a connection between us with more diversity and uniqueness. I think that the Drawing Room gallery supports this kind of engagement programme which makes contemporary drawing relevant and accessible to local communities, encouraging self-expression through hands-on making; I would like to contact the gallery and verify this opportunity.

Julie Mehretu, ‘Middle Grey’, 2007-2009, ink and acrylic on canvas
304.8 x 426.7 cm (courtesy of the artist and The Project, New York)

‘Kiroseyeonkyedo’,  (耆老世聯禊圖, A Banquet for a Mutual Association of Elderly People) by Kim Hong-Doh (1745),

(private collection)

Kim Hong-Doh

Kim Hong-Doh was one of the most famous Korean artists for drawing natural life and reflecting the lives of people in natural environments in works which represent farmers and the world of harvest. This is clearly seen in his famous paintings created during the Chŏsun dynasty which focused on the cultural characteristics of Korean food simply and precisely in documentation and expression for a period of time in which he was present and which he reflected realistically, and we can notice his interest in details used as a means of exploring the behavioural impact of an urban place, a technique called psycho-geography.


I try to evoke and visualize the history of my culture from what I currently know, hear and witness. His drawings inspired me to use simplicity in my drawing to delve into the narrative of the public and social life which has been part of Saudi society from the period of nomadism right up to the present day representing hospitality and the practices which it involves related to dates. This helped me to understand my research and explore it in a deeper way. The narrative, documentation, space, place and social spaces in my drawings helps me and my audience to understand the traditional notion of my culture. I would like to present more work in this simple, real-life style but in more detail in order to represent as fully as possible the places and literature of traditional Saudi hospitality.


Geronta described psycho-geography as “Generating thoughts inside the mind, yet revealed in every aspect of the surroundings (environment built or natural). Psychogeography comes to consolidate the methods, the place and the time”, and there are

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