Aya Haidar

In the centre of Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, is a statue depicting a woman, one arm bearing a torch aloft, the other around the shoulders of a young boy. The statue is riddled with bullet holes from the wars, uprisings and political unrest that have pockmarked the 69 years of Lebanese independence. A photograph of the landmark crops in on the two figures whose bullet wounds have been carefully, tenderly stitched over in a variety of multi-coloured bandages. Another view shows the woman completely wrapped, Christo-like, in red thread. These interventions by Aya Haidar, on photographs printed on linen (both from the series 'The Seamstress', 2011), illustrate the artist's method of both highlighting and concealing the marginalia normally overlooked in both the images and narratives of the country's troubled past.


Though of Lebanese heritage, Haidar has never been a permanent Lebanese resident. Using stories told to her when knitting with her grandmother and accounts of friends and people the artist has met in Lebanon, Haidar reconstructs her own versions of historical events through re-imaginings that float between the historically symbolic and the personally significant.


Central to the artist's practice is an acknowledgement of participating in a process of handing down or passing on - both the stories told to her by her of the situation and history of Lebanon - as well as the traditional techniques of embroidery that Haidar employs. Recycling used materials such as her own shoes in the series 'Soleless', 2010, or manufacturing bars of soap produced in the Middle East, each containing the pips of the Medjool dates grown widely in the Jordan valley of the West Bank, in the work 121 Settlements, 2010, the artist highlights the re-appropriative potential of items normally discarded and the politically charged status of such commonplace goods. A stretcher made of welded bike frames and inner tubes Defunct, 2007 similarly underscores the transformative function of tools - one born of necessity in areas of conflict where a makeshift stretcher becomes whatever is ready-to-hand.


The main installation in 'Behind Closed Doors', Unhinged, 2011, speaks of the geographical restrictions that are a day-to-day reality in contested areas with constant border restrictions and roadblocks. By the slightest of interventions the artist renders redundant the purpose of the doors by the removal of their handles.  A means of access becomes mere obstacle, highlighting the artificiality of the boundary created as well as the ease with which it is both erected and, potentially, dismantled.

Born in 1985, Lebanon. Lives and works in London, UK


2010 CELTA, London
2009 MSc Non-Governmental Organisations & Development, London School of Economics, London
2008 BA Fine Art, Slade School of Art, UCL, London
2004 Foundation Course, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London


Forthcoming Exhibition


2014 Two Person Show, New Art Exchange, Nottingham


Current Exhibition


2013 Aya Haidar, Huda Lutfi, Sara Rahbar, BISCHOFF/WEISS, London


Solo Exhibitions



Behind closed doors, BISCHOFF/WEISS, London


1982, BISCHOFF/WEISS, London

Crewel Stories, Contemporary Arts and Learning, London

Group Exhibitions



Dwelling, Installation, Beirut Art Week, Beirut


TEXT ME, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai

Man and Dog, JIQ JAQ Gallery, London

The Bravery, Sultan Gallery, Kuwait


ATHR Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Al Bab: A Gateway to Contemporary Arab Art, Sotheby's, London

Art Dubai, UAE

2010 Neither here nor there - Reflections on Cultural Hybridity and the Third Space. JAMM Gallery, London

FIAC, Paris

2008 London Peace Week, IARS in partnership with ROTA and WRC, London
2007 Women for Peace, Stockholm
Group Show, Turtle Gallery, London
2006 Normality, The Heder Gallery, Tel Aviv
ArtskoolGozSouth, Itinerant exhibition around Europe and Africa


2011 Contemporary Practices Magazines
2010 Emotional Learning Card, INIVA
2009 Recollections by Teta, Illustrations for a private publication



2010 Saudi Gazzette

ELLE Magazine (Middle-East)

Published interview for Calre Market Review Magazine and recipient of "Best Visual Arts Feature" at the Media Group Awards, London

Art Dubai Journal


Creative Projects

2011 Curator and arts coordinator, ATHR Gallery, KSA
2010 Artist in Residence for the Illuminating Cultures Project, Tate Britain, London
2008 Across Generations, Institute of International Visual Arts, London
My Story, founded by the RBKC and The British Arts Council, London
2005 International collaborative project, Cairu

Amai, Mexico

The Help Centre, Lebanon

2003 Tamezin Group, London
The Masbro Centre, London