Is It Morning For You Yet?58th Carnegie International

Laila Shawa

After completing formal art training in Cairo and Rome, Laila Shawa (b. 1940, Gaza; d. 2022, London) broadened her practice at Oskar Kokoschka’s seminal “School of Seeing” in Salzburg. She returned to Gaza in 1964, supervising arts and crafts education in refugee camps maintained by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and working with UN war photographer Hrant Nakasian. From 1975-85, she oversaw construction of the Rashad Shawa Cultural Centre, named after her father, then mayor of Gaza.

During the First Intifada, (1987-90) Shawa photographed graffiti messages hurriedly scribbled upon Gazan walls: the sole means of communication available to Palestinians due to Israeli restrictions on newspapers and broadcast media. From this stark visual documentation grew the acclaimed Walls of Gaza I (1992) and Walls of Gaza II (1994) series. Shawa gained further international recognition for her exhibitions: In the Name of God: Crucifixion 2000 at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2000); Sarab (2008), exploring Arab culture through Islamic geometric patterns; and Cast Lead (2011–12), memorializing Palestinian children killed by Israeli air strikes during “Operation Cast Lead” (2008). October Gallery, London, exhibited The Other Side of Paradise (2012), her heartfelt cry for Middle Eastern peace.

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