Hi, my name is Sophie and I’m currently a curatorial intern at Tate Modern and an MA in Curating the Art Museum Student at the Courtauld Institute of Art with a keen interest in Middle Eastern Art.

Assistant Curator Ann Coxon, Hala Choucair and Curator Jessica Morgan in Saloua Raouda Choucair exhibition at Tate Modern
Assistant Curator Ann Coxon, Hala Choucair and The Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art Jessica Morgan at Saloua Raouda Choucair exhibition at Tate Modern
© Tate Photography, Joanna Fernandes

Hala arrived in London on April 10th 2013, halfway through the installation of the show. As she walked around the still messy and haphazard four-room retrospective she smiled and gasped in delight.

When we sat down for a coffee two days later, she revealed how long and complex the process of the show has actually been, and how, initially, she had felt a sense of panic at the idea of transporting her mother’s precious works from Lebanon to London. The planning for the show began way back in 2011 she told me, and involved several visits and discussions with curators Jessica Morgan and Ann Coxon: ‘eventually, I got used to the idea. It became quite routine you know. But when I walk around in here and see the works, suddenly it hits me. It’s hard to explain’.

Saloua Raouda Choucair exhibition at Tate Modern. Room 1 Installation View
Saloua Raouda Choucair exhibition at Tate Modern, room 1 installation view

The show is very different to the one she curated last summer in the Beirut Exhibition Centre, which was more chronological. Here she tells me, periods have been mixed and matched. However, it shows that her mother’s work is ageing well ‘it has almost become classical, you know. You can’t tell what country or time it is from. It is global and unique at the same time’. She explains that her mother blended concepts from Islamic art and modernism, and created her own narrative and stories for them. ‘There is a strong base to her style. It isn’t repetitive, she worked on a style and grew with it, and even when she experimented and used new materials, she was so confident’. Hala hopes the show will help to create an awareness of her mother’s work and that people will admire the fact that ‘such a young woman in Lebanon had so much ambition’.

And as for the future? Well, her mother had secret dreams she says. Many of her designs were meant for public sculptures, murals and fountains - the small paintings on canvas were only the beginning.