Melissa (Anisa) Sharif was born in Benalla, north-eastern Victoria, the middle child to an avidly creative mother. When she moved to Melbourne as a young adult Anisa met her husband, Mohamed Sharif, and found Islam.
Throughout her career Anisa has engaged with numerous initiatives that break down religious barriers, particularly post-September 11. Among her achievements, she has developed programs to encourage community interaction via mosaic art projects. Both her individual and community works have been showcased across Australia – at the Edward Barton building in Canberra, the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre, the Islamic Council of Victoria, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Treasury Place, and the Islamic Museum of Australia. She has a suite of community artworks in over ten schools and through five city councils across Victoria.
Anisa specialises in glass mosaics, drawing inspiration from a range of sources from traditional Indian, Moroccan, and Persian crafts to Art Nouveau designs. She admits to being completely addicted to all things shiny.
With a combination in her mosaics of semi-precious stones, crystal, and exquisite art glass, Anisa evokes the potential for the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Fatima studied in her home country of Morocco at the school of Les Beaux Arts. She was selected for an engraving workshop at the Asilah Arts Festival and in 1988 was accepted into the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC to study painting and photography.
In 1994 Fatima moved to Australia and completed her bachelor’s degree in painting and printmaking at the ANU School of Art, graduating with first class honours, the VETA award, Mallesons Acquisition Award and a residency with Megalo printmaking.
Fatima has exhibited in a range of group and solo shows and her work has been acquired by the Australian War Memorial, the Australian National University, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Islamic Museum of Australia, and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. Her works are held in private Australian collections and in Morocco, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the USA.
In this exhibition Fatima employs her signature style working in printing techniques and traditional Islamic motifs folded into a contemporary aesthetic, visually exploring political injustices in the Muslim world. Fatima’s work evokes reflection on a transitory life that demands a commitment to compassion.
Natalie Fisher is a Sydney-based needlepoint tapestry artist of Jewish background, with a deep appreciation for Islamic architecture and design. Her work uses traditional tapestry techniques to create bold contemporary statements.
A degree in landscape architecture introduced Natalie to the structure of architectural forms and the intricacies of materials, surface details and patterns.
Natalie is a designer for Ehrman Tapestry, London, a highly successful international needlepoint kit company. She has exhibited in Sydney, Melbourne and the Southern Highlands of NSW.
Recent travels through Morocco inspired a new series of works that juxtapose ancient techniques of hand stitching with the craft of Moroccan ceramic tiles, known as zillege, and with typical Moroccan architectural features. Her tapestries invite the contemplation of how intricate shading created with hand stitched wool can represent ageing tiles that may date back centuries.
For the Motives & Motifs exhibition, Natalie’s bold geometric works speak of combined histories and inspired observations of traditional Moroccan forms.