Sudanese artist Abu Bakr al-Sherif spends endless hours in his workshop in Khartoum.
This is because he has chosen to express himself by portraying key public figures or by reviving pivotal events in Sudan’s history such as the 2019 protests against ousted President Omar al-Bashir and the demonstrations against the 2021 military coup.
Despite being an ancient art form, mosaics are not popular throughout Sudan, meaning sourcing glass tiles is difficult and expensive. In response, al-Sherif uses what is available (usually pottery) to create his artwork.
“People have gradually started to understand the art of mosaic through my works, media and social media. Maybe I have influenced many people through my works (and helped them understand) that there is an art called mosaic presented to them and they started to understand and accept,” said Abu Bakr al-Sherif, who has worked with the material for nearly two decades.
To ignite national interest in the mosaics, it is decorating public spaces with portraits of public figures including former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Since 2010 she has also been teaching the craft, inspiring her students and attracting a new wave of artists.
“People started working with me. The idea is that I create artwork about sit-ins and revolution and revolutionaries take part in it. The idea of participation is not limited to adults. Children can participate too” , He says.
The Sudanese artist has also experimented with stone and glass in the past, but now, using more readily available ceramics, he hopes to collaborate with artists and companies to fill public spaces with mosaic portraits of prominent national figures.