A resident is capturing the beauty of nature in the most extraordinary way. Through his unique medium of choice, cuttlefish bones, Indian Imtiaz Ahmed is creating magical masterpieces that leave viewers in awe.
His latest collection, aptly named the “Nature Collection,” focuses on arthropods, showcasing their intricate details in the silver-coated metal alloy piece cast in cuttlefish bone, handpicked from Bahrain’s shores. In his Nabih Saleh home, Imtiaz, has set aside a room as his workshop, where he spends time working passionately, tracing, carving, and molding with his tools ranging from pens and pencils to knives, chisels, and cutters.
“I can make a piece within three to four hours, and I find my hobby very relaxing. Once I complete a piece, I feel so full of energy,” Imtiaz told Bahrain This Week.
“Sometimes the cast fails and the mould falls apart when I do the fine chiselling, and the metal that I use is low grade and not of high elasticity – it can break. Then I redo it, which demands patience and courage.”
The cuttlebone is the internal shell of molluscs like squids, known as cuttlefish. After breeding, the female cuttlefish die, and a few weeks later, their skeletons are washed up on the beach. The bone’s chalky texture helps with carving and drawing on it. A bachelor’s degree holder in arts from Mumbai’s prestigious JJ School of Arts, Imtiaz, took an interest in the cuttlefish bones that he found scattered on the shores of Bahrain in 2016. Ever since he realised his passion for sculpting magical masterpieces from these bones, he finds time to go to the beaches two to three times in a span of six months and comes back with an ample lot for his workshop. With meticulous precision, he carves, shapes, and sculpts these bones into stunning art pieces that depict the beauty of arthropods in incredible detail.
Each piece is a testament to Imtiaz’s dedication and passion for his craft. “I knew that these bones were used by jewellers in the past and thought of trying out some designs on them, and I collected them from the shores, mainly the Seef beaches. I started with designs from the Dilmun civilization on pendants and then took to Islamic calligraphy. Later, I created leaves and petals, some cufflinks, and some jewellery. Of late, I am modelling on arthropods like insects and bugs – I call it my nature collection.”
The Nature Collection has a crab, a snail, a centipede, a spider, and a scorpion, among others. Imtiaz’s attention to detail is astounding – from the intricate patterns on the body of a snail to the delicate legs of a spider, every aspect is carefully recreated. The end result is a series of artwork that not only captures the essence of these creatures but also presents them in a new light, transforming a seemingly mundane material into something extraordinary.
Imtiaz’s art not only celebrates the beauty of arthropods; through his work, he also emphasises the delicate balance of nature and the need to protect these intricate ecosystems. By highlighting the intricacies of arthropods, Imtiaz hopes to inspire others to appreciate and care for the natural world.
“I think these creatures are beautifully created but are often not appreciated.” Imtiaz dreams of a retired life that is fully dedicated to his hobby, while he is still not sure about fully commercializing the skill.
“I have given a brand name to my creations – fossiobjet – meaning objects from fossil-like items, which is the bone, but maybe in the future, when I retire, I will rebrand it, as I hope to do it full-time.”
The 54-year-old graphic designer who works for the Interior Ministry lives with his wife, Sobi Sameer, a teacher, and the couple has two sons – Hamad, 22, and Emaad, 16.