Yousra Abdel-Rahman (Photos by: photographer Samir Ezz)
Her art uses metal and wood as well as laser cut and print techniques to evoke nostalgic themes, which are popular each year during Ramadan.
Yousra Abdel-Rahman is a 35-year-old graduate of the Faculty of Agriculture at Alexandria University. At university, she started in the theatre, making set designs and decoration. Afterwards, she worked for 10 years as an interior designer.
In 2015, she started pursuing her passion making nostalgic Ramadan décor.
The project is named “Ramadan Al-Zaman Al-Gamil” (meaning the golden era of Ramadan), depicting the authentic atmosphere of Ramadan through its most loved and iconic TV characters and decorations.
“This period of time is stamped in our memory. It is unforgotten and part of an entire generation’s sweet childhood reminiscences,” Abdel-Rahman says.
The character model-making focuses on every detail – hair style, skin color, age, body shape, costumes, shoes, jewelry, accessories, wigs and size – with the highest quality.
Trying different methods and learning from her mistakes she has spendt three years innovating and fixing problems until she reached the final desired shape.
“I was born in Saudi Arabia. I was away from my homeland Egypt for a big chunk of my childhood,” she remembers.
“My father used to record on video tapes all Ramadan fawazeer (riddles), TV series and programs. I watched them during the holy month of Ramadan, living the atmosphere of Ramadan as if I were in Egypt,” she recalls.
“Ramadan memories for me have been closely associated with memorable Egyptian television characters,” she adds.
She began by making famous Ramadan characters from the popular Ramadan riddles show Fawazeer with Nelly in Al-Khatbah (“The Matchmaker”) series (1981), then Sherihan's three Fawazeer seasons (1986-1994) followed by the Fatouta Fawazeer series by the late iconic comedian Samir Ghanem that first aired in 1982.
Other characters depicted in her work include figures from Fawazeer series for children Amo Fouad Beylef Belad (“Uncle Fouad Travels To The Countryside”) (1983-1993) that were hosted by the late iconic comedian Fouad El-Mohandes.
Abdel-Rahman also makes different designs for the book “Alf Leila We Leila” (“One Thousand and One Nights”) Ramadan storytelling series.
She depicts the characters in the popular Ramadan drama Scheherazade and Shahryar that starred Naglaa Fathi and Hussein Fahmi in the mid 1980s.
She also created depictions of Egyptian comedian actor Ibrahim Nasr’s Boogy we Tamtam, a popular Ramadan children puppet series, as well as characters from the children cartoon series Bakkar in the 1990s.
This year, Abdel-Rahman designed an oversize vintage TV with screen set in wooden cabinet four metres wide by three metres tall, allowing visitors to go inside the TV themselves.
The set is located in Maadi district and open to the public.
Visitors get a chance to get inside and travel to the world of sweet memories from the past and unforgettable figures.
Her heartwarming creations also depict Ramadan Iftar canon’s boomeranging sound, foul cart and fawanees (Ramadan lanterns) cart in Cairo’s Al-Muizz Street, Azhar and Khan El- Khalili.
“All décor designs are 100 percent made by Egyptian hands. All materials are from Egypt,” she adds.
Research is pivotal prior to Abdel-Rahman’s work ethic, as she jots down notes on a character's personalities as well as physical traits before starting the design.
“I try to make character appear true to size and have the actual appearance of the real figure, object or scenes as much as I can."
“The time duration each figure takes differs according to the place space and décor design but in general, generating new ideas is much difficult than executing the designs themselves,” she concludes.