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Annais Benetua Bin Haider, from United Arab Emirates

When Haider’s youngest son, Abdullah (now 10), went to grade one in 2004, she spent her mornings attending arts and crafts workshops. “I learnt decorative matting and framing of photographs. I also picked DIY craft books,” she recalls.

Her artistic potential, fuelled by an extremely creative imagination, led her to take these workshops seriously.

It also led to the online search of the use of acid-free paper in decorative matting. “I discovered its use in scrapbooking. I was hooked,” says the mother of 3 boys, Rashid, 13, and Omair, 11 and Abdullah, 10.

Scrapbooking is a work of art and an illustrated form of storytelling. For Haider, it is both, and an artistic expression of familial love. “A scrapbook is an interpretation of my life and my personality through art. Most importantly, it is a way to express love for my family. There is nothing more precious than the gift of a scrapbook,” she says.

Scrapbooking is often accused of being assemblage or bricolage art by artists who believe the truest form of art is creating not assembling.

“When a scrapbook artist develops his style by experimenting with different decorative techniques and a wide variety of mediums, his work becomes original. A scrapbook is an illustrated story of your life. How can somebody else have the same story or memories as you do?” reasons Haider, who has been exhibiting at ARTE Soukh since July this year, where locally made scrapbooking paper packs and Memories of UAE scrapbooking album were launched.

“All my scrapbooks are heirlooms. I use acid-free or archival quality supplies to ensure the art will not fade, yellow or turn brittle and disintegrate,” she says.

Scrapbooks can represent random, chronological or themed family life. Haider finds the entire process enjoyable. “The only tough part is choosing what to include. There are so many photographic moments I would like to record,” she says. Every stage is important, especially the layout. “The process includes the positioning of photographs, adding embellishments to support the story, and completion with written details like what, where, when, why and who. Together, these elements create the layout,” she says.

Cropping is also an important step. “It is like zooming in on your subject after the photo is taken. Through this, you can focus the viewer’s eye on a particular element of the photo or trim away the unappealing portions.”

Her fascination for scrapbooking inspired her to open her home-based scrapbook store, Creative Hands, and to offer classes tailored to support the art. “My store also deals with scrapbooking supplies because when I started out, I realised of the obvious paucity of supplies,” she says.

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