I am thrilled and honoured beyond words to have been awarded an MBE for services to Deaf and Disabled people in the arts in the 2022 Queen's New Year honours list. I will be in touch with people individually to thank them for their support, kind words and commendations, but for now just want to say how much it means to me, and how proud I am to be raising the profile of Deaf and Disabled creatives, whose voice is so often unheard and whose talents so often overlooked. This award will, apart from anything else, spur me on to work for greater representation by marginalised groups and to help get the hidden talent out on show.
"Colour is the vital ingredient for me: I can see in my work the heat and intensity of my home in Sudan, the cooler shades of London. I love organic forms as well as architecture, and when I copied the shape of my ear I found that it changed into the natural architecture of the shell, a symbol that I have become closely associated with. It is a shape with a transcendent quality, one which belongs as much in an image of Arab design as a European landscape, and I think I will always love the way that symbols can unite completely different experiences in life."
Omeima is a British-Sudanese combined textile artist, crafts maker and independent curator who has exhibited both nationally and internationally and received the runner-up prize for the Arab British Centre Award for Culture (individual award) 2019. The Award for Culture celebrates organisations and individuals whose work has significantly contributed to the British public’s understanding of the Arab world over the last two years.
Omeima is a Clore Cultural Leadership Fellow 2019/20, a creative consultant, Deaf and hard of hearing accessibility consultant and trainer and a leader in creating Deaf and hearing integrated activities that promotes both equity and professional development opportunities.
In 2021 as part of her Clore Fellowship Omeima worked on a secondment with the Craft Council and supported in the planning and delivery of an action plan that would see the Craft Council begin a journey into ensuring they are a leader in the craft sector for diversity and equity, alongside being commissioned and invited to be part of the Tackling Racial Inequalities project run by Dr Karen Patel, in the context of the Craft Council’s approach to tackling racism and inequality in the craft sector. She is also a Trustee for Inc Arts commencing her exciting role early in 2021.
A graduate with a BA in Textile Design from Surrey Institute of Art & Design at Farnham (now University for the Creative Arts) Omeima also has a master's degree in Art Policy and management at Birkbeck University, she has over twenty years experience working as an artist, maker and designer. Her work is a unique fusion of eastern and western influences, with strong influences of organic forms and Arabic styles. Omeima employs deep, intense colours, with rich blending of devoré and layering techniques involving other mediums such as glass to create installations that stimulate the mind, spirit and senses. Omeima uses traditional screen printing and dyeing techniques with silk, tissue, velvet and paper to create textured work that you can ‘feel’. Part of the technique she uses incorporates 3D layering to enhance the sense of perspective. She particularly enjoys experimenting with devoré as it can create contrast and depth within the textile design and provides endless possibilities for experimentation.
In 2018 Omeima was commissioned by Artichoke to work with local communities in Brighton bringing deaf and hearing women together to create a banner that would signify the city's ethos and send out a message of equality to mark the centenary of women's right to vote in the UK. The resulting work, a hand embroidered banner made by a group of hearing and deaf women working under the name 'Bridging Voices', was taken to London as part of the landmark PROCESSIONS event on 10 June 2018. This culminated in the publishing of a book titled Women Making History.
In 2017 Omeima was awarded a research and development grant by Unlimited, a programme delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin to raise the profile of disabled artists. Working in partnership with glass artist Mike Barrett, this unique collaborative project, entitled River Runs Through, draws on the experiences of Sudanese people who have migrated to Britain. An exhibition at Fabrica Gallery in Brighton in March 2018 shows how Omeima's textiles and Mike's glass works have fused together in a way that shows migratory pathways of the mind and body, much of which is inspired by shared recollections of time spent by the river Nile in Khartoum, Omeima's birthplace.
In 2016, Omeima, working in partnership with artist Miranda Ellis, was awarded a grant by Arts Council England. Fusing textiles and glass making techniques, the Eye2eye project culminated in an installation of new work at ONCA gallery in Brighton in April 2017.
In 2015 Omeima was selected by the British Council, in partnership with Shape Arts, for a residency in Qatar, and was commissioned to create work for the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. Omeima incorporated Arabic calligraphy into her designs, responding to the works of this prestigious collection.
In 2013 Omeima won a Cockpit Arts bursary award and her studio is based in a Cockpit Arts studio in Bloomsbury, London. In 2014 she won the Jill Humphrey Springboard Prize and was shortlisted for Shape Arts' prestigious Adam Reynolds Award.
Photos by Louise Wickham
Omeima is available for workshops, creative and development projects and commissions - please email via the contact page
Omeima would like to thank the organisations below for their funding and generous support