Alyazia Bint Nahyan connects - things and people. And the title ‘I met a traveller from an antique land’, which she has chosen for the exhibition, subtly reflects these connections. Its significance comes from the fact that it is the first line of the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, in which the 18th century poet ponders on the greatness of ancient Egypt viewed by the travellers of his day.
Drawing on this analogy, Alyazia’s work pursues connections with ancient civilisations / customs and traditions with more modern mores, so bringing together the past and the present. The exhibition mixes verses of poetry she has specifically selected from a variety of well-known Arab and Western poets with her own works, to underpin her theme of connecting. Whether it is in her series Bon Voyage in which she links historical figures extracted from famous paintings with commercial airline posters, or in Carrom Station in Motion where she plays on the South Asian board game of carrom by taking chips from the game and synthesising them with the controls of a modern video game in mixed media paintings.
Her most intriguing series Mishmash Trails and Mishmash take us straight into the world of Indiana Jones – in Mishmash Trails we are asked to imagine treasure hunters looking for lost treasures encapsulated in cave like two dimensional marble formations, only to be put off by false trails, while the real treasure (ancient coins which Alyazia has reinterpreted and designed) lies buried elsewhere. Whilst in Mishmash, we see exactly that, the mishmashed coins with symbols which range from ancient Phoenician to modern Emirati to past Islamic, which Alyazia recreates in paint on the canvas, representing the blending of common identities.