Seeb Suq in Sultanate of Oman (1983)
Screenprint by Charmaine Hall


  • Screenprint, Paper
  • From a limited edition of 106
  • Size: 20 × 28.5 × 1 in (unframed) / 15.5 × 23 in (actual image size)
  • This artwork is sold unframed
  • Signed and numbered on the front

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Charmaine Hall

United States

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Artist's description:

This is my coffee man in Oman. I went nuts about the coffee there. It is so hot, you must have (or should I say I needed) a caffein buzz to keep from sleeping all the time in the heat. We kept weird hours. I went to work from 7am to 1 pm and then went home to have a siesta and lunch until I had to be back from 5-7pm. I hated the schedule because I would have to get up from a tomb like sleep and drive in crazy traffic back to the office (I was the first woman working in the first graphic arts company in Oman, run by a great guy. He and his incredibly handsome brothers were great friends to me. This was one of the younger brothers and he let me do my work in a very arty way, as I was not a commercial artist.
I made alot of mistakes, but since no one had ever done anything like that before, it was all good. How did I make it work, printing all night and drawing dancing eggplants for the new grocery's fliers by day? My Coffee Man!
He was in a seaside village not far away from where I lived, and he sold a bit of everything. I found him because my teaching job fell through and the government wanted me to teach English in this tiny fishing village called Seeb. It is probably some posh resort now, but back then it was a few breeze block houses and a tiny market with my wonderful coffee man.
His son helped him because he was blind, and I would ask about the coffee beans he had from all over the world and then he would blend them for me by hand. In the beginning he had his son show me how to roast the beans, grind them, and which spices to add as I boiled them. I bought everything there, including a hand crank grinder from India made of cast iron.
He would always ask me what I was up to, so I took in some sketches once to have his son describe to him. I thought I would teach there, but my work took off so I got to be a full time artist.
So the print, which took about nine months to complete, is from the one photo he let me take of him. I have about 24 left. It looks like a painting because their are almost 100 stencils layered on it. Also, by now I realized that silk screening was the best way for me to capture the light and dark of Oman. The light is very dramatic and the shadows are great, but being so close to the euqator, your time to work is very short. As I did this one I realized it was going to be very Caravaggio in both the shadows and colors; that said it is true to life.
Check out the handcuff things on the wall--they are donkey and camel hobbles--can't chase anything in that heat.The brownish water in the used glass bottles is 'rose water'.
Don't get your hopes up. I thought it would be this aromatic wonder, but they burn the rose petals and splash it on guests to get them to leave. "There is no staying after the rose water." Omani villagers are very polite, but they have things to do, so they would always check me out, get the women to make me chai (best in the world), then whoa --SPLASH. COVERED IN GRAY SMOKEY WATER! I looked like I had been rescued from a fire.
One of the first things I learned to say in Arabic was "Tell me to leave please. No rose water." This would be met with hysterical laughter.

Materials used:

Sericol inks on archival paper

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