Welcome to the Dior Talks series themed around the sixth edition of Dior Lady Art and hosted by Paris-based journalist Katya Foreman. For this year’s event, 12 artists from around the world have participated in a game of metamorphosis by rendering the iconic Lady Dior handbag as a unique piece of art.
Bold and committed, our latest guest on the podcast, contemporary artist Manal AlDowayan, questions the representation of women, social injustices and collective memory. She describes her Lady Dior handbags - created during lockdown from her base in London - as a “love letter” to her homeland of Saudi Arabia with the artist revisiting family photographs and symbolic emblems of her childhood and life story.
Born in Dhahran, a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, the artist grew up in a compound that was built as a replica of Southern California “to make the oil drillers feel at home.” She describes it as having this “is it real or is it constructed” feel which feeds into her work.
Adorned with a black-and-white photograph swaying with palm trees, Landscapes of the Mind, crafted from printed gold calfskin leather with embroidered black feathers, captures a snapshot of life in Saudi Arabia from a woman’s perspective, while The Boys, in printed black calfskin leather, bears an image taken by her father in 1962 and reworked by the artist. Lastly, a mini minaudiere style bag, made using a 3D printing technique, pays tribute to the desert rose, a symbol of the artist’s childhood growing up on the edge of the desert.
Tune in to the episode to hear all about AlDowayan’s experience translating her images onto “a portable space” charged with its own story and emotions: the emblematic Lady Dior handbag.