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The E-Sylum (1/20/2019)

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E-Sylum readers are familiar with the work of artist Mark Wagner, whose medium is creating collages from sliced-up U.S. banknotes. This article from Abu Dhabi discussed a portrait an artist made of that country's founder from shredded banknotes. Found in the January 15, 2019 issue of News & Notes from the Society of Paper Money Collectors. -Editor

Shredded banknote portrait of Sheikh Zayed

It was a moment to cherish as His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. But this was not just another portrait of the UAE's founding father. It was a labour of love made of shredded banknotes worth Dh1 million, conceptualised by Mohammed Abdullatif Galadari, Director of Galadari Brothers, and executed by Emadeldin Abdelsalam, Khaleej Times artist.

When Galadari received in November last year a million dirhams -- in shredded banknotes -- he knew they were worth something. He conceptualised creating a portrait of the UAE's Founding Father to showcase sustainability.

But the shreds of the banknotes were too small -- the 'large' pieces being no bigger than 0.5cm -- and colours were limited as they came only in shades of red, orange, blue and brown for Dh100, Dh200, Dh500 and Dh1,000 notes, respectively.

"From the moment I received the gift of shredded banknotes, I knew I wanted to create a lasting legacy with it," said Galadari. "With 2018 being the Year of Zayed and given the founding father's determined focus on sustainability, the idea to create a portrait of Sheikh Zayed with these notes to showcase sustainability then became an obsession with me," he said.

That's when Emad stepped in to accept the challenge of painstakingly sifting through and sorting out thousands of shreds over days just to identify the right colours and patterns that would help him fashion this stunning artwork.

Armed with tweezers, the Egyptian expat worked with precision that would put a Swiss watchmaker to shame. One piece at a time, he placed the different-coloured shreds and deftly glued them in the right place.

Emad said the first few days were really a struggle, sifting through and sorting out thousands of shreds over days just to identify the right colours and patterns for Sheikh Zayed's eyes, the crease on his forehead and the cleft of his chiselled chin. Emad initially doubted if he could accomplish fashioning out the artwork.

Hours turned into days and days into weeks before there was a breakthrough. The artwork began to take shape and with moral support from Galadari and his colleagues, Emad continued with renewed inspiration to finish the project.

It was a real conquest as he finished the artwork in under a month. Emad said he worked for the project non-stop for 21 days, even putting some hours during his days off.

To read the complete article, see:

Sheikh Mohamed receives 'Dh1m' Sheikh Zayed portrait (

To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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