(Picture above: from left, Hamzeh Al Hahah, and Ali Al Monazel, Kids who helped artist Lutfi on one of his murals, 'Toz'.)



Toz’ by:

Lutfi Zayed – Resident Artist

A freelance illustrator / designer based in Amman, Jordan who loves to do things that mainly involve drawing. A neat freak only when it comes to creating artworks & illustrations. “My biggest inspiration comes from pencils & deadlines.” he says.


Street art in its nature is rebellious, expressive and short lived. What is the impact/foot print you want to leave on Jabal Al Qala’a after your artwork burns out, to sort of say?
It’s not so much about the work fading, as it is the role it played when it existed. The footprint I wanted to leave behind is a symbol of the dialogue that we had with the community of Jabal Al Qala’a over the last 5 months.

Your Graffiti is presented in a manner to create a dialogue rather than set a statement. Where do you see this dialogue going?
I was not priming the walls to create new graffitti, and I was not coming up with sketches of new objects, I was using the existing graffitti as an inspiration and responding to it. I felt a respect and importance towards what was already written and I wanted to playfully speak back. Since then, a third layer of dialogue has entered, a response by someone from the community, so it seems my dialogue is going on the path that it should.


Provoking interest rather than demanding it. Is this a ‘Banksy’s & robbo’s street art battle” kind of scenario, where you challenge youngsters to respond with more originality and creativity and cause an impact as an end result?
Yes, I was trying to inspire this young generation to think of imagery in order to make their words stronger, to look at words and form new meanings and push their sense of style forward.


Does the graffiti of the little boy with the stop sign (first page) resemble or demonstrate the situation in jabal al Qala’a,-wanting to reach out and grab the gift-but being prevented from it. Explain to us in more depth about the little boy and the people of the Qala’a.
This image is not directly related to the community in any way, I wasn’t reading deeper into things- it may have some depth to it, but I was purely reflecting the culture and society of Jabal Al Qalaa through its existing graffitti and not more.


Talk to us more about your other graffiti- the teacher and the swear words, mural ‘Toz’. And any other recently added ones.
After drawing the teacher, we discovered the many hidden layers of that wall, it seems, the conversation had started long before me. ‘Toz’ which we all know means a negative dissing of someone on a school wall led me to think about the students and their education. But that wasn’t the reason why it was there. We found out later that somebody had written their name, and it seems his nemesis wrote ‘toz’ all around it, so the name was then erased, and a new meaning for ‘toz’ was relayed to me. Since it was a school wall, I decided to draw a teacher trying to explain a pie chart, and the larger the toz the larger the pie slice- this was probably a reflection of the children’s own association with school and education, and maybe my way of telling them that a lot of it doesn’t matter. What we saw a few weeks later, was a small sketch of my up-side-down man which I’ll now tell you about. There was a statement about women that drew my attention because of its size and the fact that nobody thought of removing it. It talked about a woman’s honor still remaining below the heel or foot of the narrator. I responded by drawing a man up-side-down (<picture; up left) who looked like he was bragging, but the joke was on him, because the bottom of his feet was pointing to the sky. I felt this was one of my best works to date.



‘Totem Project’ by:

Shermine Sawalha – Resident Artist

A One+Odd, visual and Performing Artist. Inspirator, yet another animal and wishes she has clones.

(Picture right: Shermine sits by her Totem Project>)


Adding an artistic element to the dusty smell of learning. How did you come up with the concept?
After visiting many homes in the area and closely listening to the neighbors requests and challenges … I realized that one solution isn’t enough but something able to enclose more that one demand might be closer to the answer of what is needed and what should be created. so the idea of a closet came to play a place to provide what is needed.


What’s your inspiration from Jabal Al Qala’a?
The community, the slopes, the views, kids, old homes, desperation to learn and get involved, the helping hand and the love in piles.


Your designs are certainly eye-catchy, are the addition of the artworks a mean to serve in attracting people/inviting children to read?
The works are not my designs … I designed the concept, a blue print that I provided the people in the community in the Jabal. This blue print was filled in by a group of around 300, drawing in their own interpretations of faces, themselves and their neighborhood. The sketches I collected were then organized, redrawn and painted on the totems, Layering our collaboration and their imagination potential to create beautiful imagery even with a simple sketch.


‘AL-Totem” – Explain to us the name and it’s relation to the people of Jabal Al-Qala’a. What do the drawings symbolize?
Al TAWTAM – the totem, is an object representing an animal, plant, or parts of human figures, that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, a clan, group, lineage, or a tribe, reminding them of their ancestry and representing what they stand for. The drawings are of the Qala’a residents and how they interpret their own emblem, selves and neighborhood to represent themselves to the passersby.


Playtime is the best time, is this a method to make reading more amusing and enjoyable?
The Fact that there is another option than roaming the streets is a great initiative, the parents and children both showed an interest in something getting them more involved, inspiring them to be more creative and educated, books are just one of those things.

FACT : the first hour 250+ books where taken out of the totems. Go figure.

Aspiring children to be more, have you received any feedback concerning -opening up to books, reading, learning in-general?
KIDS ARE SPONGES… what ever goes around them and inspires them for a brief moment might just the turning point in their life. I have seen some change in the span of 5 month I’ve been around and it is amazing what they would like to be and become… I’m just glad they let me be one of those inspirations… for they surly were the ones for me to get back to creating.


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