The Egyptian Tentmakers

Genuine hand-stitched Kheyameya are today largely sold as homewares (wall hangings, bedspreads and cushions). The artisans who make them increasingly rely on exports, but most are struggling,

In order to highlight their plight and raise awareness of this unique craft tradition, Rotate Editions has produced a limited edition series of Kheyameya wall hangings: a collaboration between four European graphic artists and two Kheyameya artists.

Anthony Burrill; A Practice For Everyday Life; Damien Poulain and Rhonda Drakeford of Darkroom have all had designs produced by two Egyptian ‘tentmakers’ – Ashraf Hashem and Hassan Omar (Yahia).

Cairo is one of my favourite cities in the world - there’s something about the crazy traffic, the people, the noise the smells. It’s a city that's an assault on every one of your senses.

I was lucky to spend 6 years living in Egypt, working as a tour guide and my house (and studio) are shrines to my travels, with trinkets and artefacts in every corner. 

As you wander around the souks and bazars (my favourite is Khan el-Khalili) and move away from the ‘tourist tat’ you can find wonderful crafted goods.

Egyptian Kheyameya artists, or ‘tentmakers’, have for centuries created large-scale appliqué pieces to line the interiors of tents used for ceremonies including marriages and funerals, and also for religious festivals. the process has since been replaced by machine-made versions, knocked out by factories at a fraction of the price and beauty.