Sudanese mosaic artist revives African country's historic moments through ceramic creations

Sudanese artist Abu Bakr al-Sherif spends endless hours at his workshop in Khartoum.

That's because he's chosen to express himself by depicting key public figures or reviving pivotal events in Sudan's history such as the 2019 protests against ousted president Omar al-Bashir and the demonstrations against the 2021 military coup.

Despite being an ancient art form, mosaics aren't popular throughout Sudan which means sourcing glass tesserae difficult and expensive. In response, al-Sherif uses what is available (usually ceramics) to create his artworks.

"People started to gradually understand the art of mosaic through my works, media, and social media. I perhaps influenced many people through my works (and helped them realise) that there is an art called mosaic presented to them and they began understanding and accepting it," said Abu Bakr al-Sherif, who's been working with the material for almost two decades.

Sudanese artist uses ceramic pieces for his artworks. - AFP

To ignite national interest in mosaics, he is decorating public spaces with portraits of public figures including former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. He has also been teaching the craft since 2010, inspiring his students and attracting a new wave of artists.

"People began working with me. The idea is that I create artwork on sit-ins and the revolution and revolutionaries take part in it. The idea of participation is not restricted to adults. Children can take part as well," he says.

Sudanese artist Abu Bakr al-Sherif at his mosaic making workshop - AFP

The Sudanese artist has also experimented with stone and glass in the past, but now by using more readily available ceramics, he hopes to collaborate with artists and companies to fill public spaces with mosaic portraits of important national figures.