Ranya Abdulateef Q&A

Ranya Abdulateef

Hi Ranya! Firstly, could you briefly introduce yourself and your practice?

I’m a textile artist based in Wakefield. Founder of MelograniArt embroidery and a member of the Merrie collective. I have a varied practice including printing, embroidery, illustration, painting as well as photography which are all inspired by nature.

My practice takes me away from any negativity and pressure I feel - it is rewarding to see it transform into the development of my skills and continuous learning of art and design.

How did the idea to create a project around Refusal Collectors first come about?

My idea started in the first lockdown, when the media was mostly focused on the front-line jobs and mentioned almost all of the frontline worker except refuse collectors- in my opinion the most important people (after those in the NHS) who had been working extra hard and risking their lives to keep everywhere clean and no foul smelling streets. It was at that time when I started to notice the amount of rubbish my family accumulated as we were all working from home that I thought about the refuse collectors and their invisibility from the media. Bins don’t clean themselves! 

What would you like the people of Wakefield to experience or learn when seeing your final piece?

I would like them to know and understand that being a refuse collector is an important job. After they read the stories, I would like them to think about the way they treat and think about refuse collectors, and to understand that many of them have multiple jobs and are talented individuals. We must not disrespect or ignore them, and more importantly, not get frustrated when they refuse to collect certain things due to the rules of their jobs. Without them we would be living in an awful smelly pile of rubbish instead of a clean environment. I want people to appreciate what they’re doing for us.

And finally, the majority of our audience weren’t able to go on holiday this Summer. So if you could travel anywhere right now, where would you like to go and why?

There’s too many to choose from that I’m desperate to go to! First, I’d like to visit Switzerland because of the beautiful nature! I much prefer places in nature than busy city shopping areas. I also want to go to Italy and then Dubai because I miss my friends out there, it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen most of them. There’s also new art sections over there that have opened and I always enjoy seeing them in person!

Has the pandemic challenged the way in which you work at all? How have you overcome this?

The pandemic affected me by slowing down my timeline so meetings and getting in contact with the refuse collectors were delayed. It was difficult to acquire the materials I needed too as most of the shops I have used before were closed or had long delivery waiting lists. Everything seemed to be taking more time, especially if someone were to test positive for the virus so my timeline for the project had to adapt.

Do you have a favourite artist or piece of artwork that inspires you?

For this project I was inspired by Faith Ringgold’s work. I was looking for artists and projects that reflect stories and her way of working was similar to what I had in mind to create this piece of artwork.  

Have you any more future art commissions or projects coming up?

So this is my first independent project that I’ve worked on but after this I will be looking for new ideas to work with. Maybe I’ll develop my idea of working with refuse collectors and collaborate with different artists around Wakefield to create something with different techniques and to a larger scale. Also, as a member of the Merrie collectives I will be collaborating with them in various group projects that we’re planning.

Ranya Abdulateef's Honouring our Refuse Collectors, Find out more here >>

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