Every visitor at the Sea Shell Exhibition showcased in the Salalah Tourism Festival was awestruck after witnessing the intricate shell designs of Amina Salim al Maalam, who displayed more than 100 artworks and claimed to have many more tucked at her home, a room of which serves as her workshop.
Soft, shy and not in a hurry to tell about her passion for art, Amina tells visitors to move around the exhibition hall to get a feel of the artwork before talking about her passion.
She derives her passion from the sea and seaside and loves to transform the shells, remains of sea leaves and coral reefs found on the beaches into useful and beautiful things.
“I love the sea and the seaside and get excited after seeing the beauty of nature strewn all over the beaches. I collect them, bring them home and work on them. I am keen to train women and schoolchildren in this art, as every beachgoer has the desire to do something with the lovely creations of nature,” said Amina.
Professionally she is a Master in Educational Management and works at Dhofar University, but she works hard on her hobby of shell art that gives her immense pleasure and satisfaction.
A mother of six sons and daughters, Amina finds her inspiration in her family and also what she manages to see during her travels. She is also inspired by other’s artworks and has a deep-seated love for antiques. She puts emphasis on the fact that her family members are the most supportive for her work and growth.
She does not maintain any schedule to follow her hobby and believes that “hobbies are part of life and they travel all through even when you are engrossed in your professional work.”
She admits that she gets enough time to pursue her hobby. “Because all my sons are grown up, they do not need continuous follow up. My time goes in collecting the shells and when they are plenty, I work on the design and then something beautiful comes out.”
Art seems to have ingrained in her as it was not very long when she started working on seashells. “I started working on shells in 2008 and have more than 200 pieces ready. There is good demand for them and I sell them when there is good demand.”
She got lots of encouragement from the visitors who asked her to take part in more and more events to showcase, “as they are unique and different from what we see regularly,” said Abdul Majeed who claims to have visited Amina’s gallery twice. Amina participated in two other exhibitions in 2014 and 2016 and this is her third exhibition.
Among children, her little girl is the only one who likes shells and her mother working on them. She gives helping hands to Amina in her own limited way.
“Yes I sell my products and I am very happy that my products have right value. This is proof that the community accepts my products and is keen to buy them,” she says.