As a zellige addict I fell in love with the pop zellige art collages of Boubouteatime. Boubouteatime is the blog of visual artist and designer Bouchra Benhalima, born in Algeria but raised in Paris. Bouchra started her blog four years ago for the pleasure of running a web magazine about art, and because she wanted to share her collage works and present them as daily articles.
Bouchra Benhalima has a successful blog about digital art, lifestyle and vintage inspiration. “When I started my blog, I wanted to add my personal touch but I didn’t want to appear in any images. I decided I would act like a style department and share my daily inspiration with others people in the form of collages. Finally, three and a half year later, I launched the brand.” The brand name Boubouteatime sounds very adorable. “The name of my blog comes from “boubou”, which has been my nickname since I was a little kid. The ‘teatime’ comes from my parents who taught me about the tea culture; I was particularly struck by the strong sense of sharing that everyone who comes together had. I try to make my blog like teatime, where the reader can chill out and take the time to read my long posts, and that led to the actual art and lifestyle brand you now know.”
When Bouchra was four years old she was immersed in art and creation. “Throughout my life, I have been given the chance to discover various cultures: my mother grew up in Marrakesh, Morocco and I travelled a lot with my parents, exploring countries around the world.” Nowadays Bouchra is inspired by her travels and daily life. “My work is all about digital art. It is based on my daily inspiration, as well as those coming from my travels, tributes to emblematic figures or news stories such as the Arab spring, but in a dreamlike and poetic way, leaving room for people’s imagination, leaving room for their hope, rather than hurting opinion.”
The digital collage is a more efficient artistic medium to express herself and to deliver messages of peace. “The dreamlike aspect of my works unveils the remaining dreamy part of this world which is running so fast that we can’t follow it anymore.”
The use of patterns like zellige is her art works’ signature. This fascination was caused by her local architecture history and her roots in Morocco and Algeria. “What really made me to be fascinated by zellige is a simple story. From age 4 to 18, I had the good fortune of travelling in Spain with my family, more precisely in Andalusia, cradle of hispano-moresque culture and architecture. That really influenced my art.”
Bouchra mixes images of pop icons, artists like Frida Kahlo and freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela, with traditional elements. The two worlds she grew up in. “I like to bring face to face these two universes with which I have evolved since I was young: the cultural universe of my oriental origins and the cultural universe of Western art. Through collage I wanted to show that two radically different universes can complete each other, create an harmony and a strong artistic energy.”
The art works have a very vintage look about them and refer to the 1950s Hollywood glamour style with lots of colours. Bouchra is also fascinated by the past. “This universe comes straight away from my imagination. I feed my mind with a lot of memories from my childhood, and with fragments from my past stories. The past really fascinates me. I tried to create more subtle collages with more neutral tones, but it was in vain. I always end up by adding colour and I realised I wasn’t able to construct my artistic universe without joyful colours : it is part of my vision of hope that we must keep in the current world. The vintage inspirations are a way to tell people that inner strength come from our origins and that we must not forget where we come from.”
“I somehow act like a sponge: I soak up everything I hear and see and re-use it for my work.”
The visual artist wants to contribute to the evolution of the Arab arts scene throughout the world, to unveil it to the West. According to her there are numerous talented artists who are worth knowing. In the context of Boubouteatime she would like her collages to act as a bridge between the different cultures of the world, to bring those face to face and to create harmony through this diversity. “Art is about the only field in which we can achieve that.”
Bouchra was represented in an exhibition in Casablanca, Morocco at Studio IWA featuring teatime culture throughout the world and more precisely in all the countries Bouchra visited, a culture that made a strong impression on her. “It is curious to see that from one country to the other, teatime shares the same aim: gathering people, warmness. That is what I wanted to emphasize during this exposition. The exposition opened a few doors in Morocco for me and earned me a four page feature in the magazine L’Officiel Maroc which was really rewarding.”
The blog also features an online shop. Bouchra sells art prints, jewels and several accessories like iPhone covers, clothes and clutches. There are two different categories in the shop: art and lifestyle. “We currently distinguish purely artistic collages (one-off, limited edition and made-to-order), and collages restricted to our tie-in products (everything you mentioned as well as new categories like interior design, clutch bags featuring a collage print, wallets, scarves and even limited editions of chic vintage ready-to-wear true to Boubouteatime universe.”
Bouchra is working with her partners to offer the Boubouteatime universe in numerous stores all over the world: Paris, London, the Middle East, Morocco etc. “Later on we plan to open our parent store in Paris which will offer both the Boubouteatime and Museast universe as well as a tearoom for a pretty unique shopping experience.” The future looks good for Bouchra. She also develops expositions around the globe, including the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and maybe Latin America.
I asked Bouchra for tips for our readers who want to blog. “My tips for a blog about lifestyle or art would be to stay yourself, and not grab concepts from other blogs. You must be smart in a world where blogging is part of our everyday life: a lot remains to be done in the world 2.0 so don’t hesitate to surpass yourself and to surprise the audience in a nice way of course.”
This post is also available in: Dutch