<strong>Laila Shawa</strong>, <em>Fashionista Terrorista II</em>, 2011. Mixed media with Swarovsky beads on canvas, 130 x 100 cm. Ed. of 2. (From <em>The Walls of Gaza III</em> series.)<em>Laila Shawa: The Other Side of Paradise</em>, 2012.<strong>Laila Shawa</strong>,  with <em>Where Souls Dwell</em> (AK47 Gun). Photo: © Malcolm Crowthers.


Laila Shawa.
Photo: © Heini Schneebeli, 1990.
Laila Shawa, Target (detail), 2008.
Digital print on canvas, 100 x 160 cm. Edition of 1.
(From The Walls of Gaza series, 1994.)

Shawa’s formal art education was at the Leonardo da Vinci School, Cairo and the University of Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts. She also attended the School of Seeing in Salzburg, established by Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka. In 1964, back in Gaza, she supervised arts and crafts education for UNWRA while working with the documentary photographer Hrant Nakashian. She co-founded the Rashad Shawa Cultural Centre. As an artist, Shawa’s concern is to reflect the political realities of her country, becoming, in the process, a chronicler of events. Her work is based on a heightened sense of realism and targets injustice and persecution wherever their roots may be. The initial impetus for a piece often comes from her photographs, which are later transformed by means of silkscreen printing techniques. The written word is often present in her work, as in the acclaimed Walls of Gaza series (1994), which focussed on the heart-rending messages of hope and resistance spray-painted, by the ordinary people of Gaza upon the walls of their city.

In 1994, October Gallery first showed Shawa in the exhibition Shawa and Wijdan, a critical exhibition which presented works by both artists. Her 2012 solo exhibition at the gallery, The Other Side of Paradise, showed sculptures and paintings that continued her uncompromising documentation of events in today’s Middle East. She is represented in public and private collections across the world, including the National Galleries of Jordan and Malaysia; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK; the British Museum, London, UK; and the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.









1940-2022, born Gaza (British Palestine).  Lived and worked in London, UK.
1957 - 58   School of Art Leonardo Da Vinci, Cairo, Egypt
1958 - 60   Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma, University of Rome, Italy, BA Hons Fine Arts
1960 - 63   Summer Courses under Austrian Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka, International Summer Academy of Fine Arts, School of Seeing, Salzburg, Austria
1960 - 64   Scuola di Arti Ornamentali San Giacomo, Rome, Italy. Diploma in Plastic & Decorative Arts
Selected Solo Shows
2019 Laila Shawa- Open Studio, with Janet Rady Fine Art, London, UK 
2012 The Other Side of Paradise, October Gallery, London, UK
2011   Trapped: A Female Suicide Bomber, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France
2010-11   Sarab (Mirage), The Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE
2010   Arabopop, Articulate Baboon Gallery, Cairo, Egypt
2008   Sarab (Mirage), Atrium Gallery, DIFC, Dubai, UAE
2000   In the Name of God: Crucifixion 2000, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK
1994   The Walls of Gaza Series II, The Library, SOAS, University of London, London, UK
The Walls of Gaza I, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
1992   Women and Magic, The Gallery, London, UK
1990   Women and the Veil, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
1975   Of Horses and Cities, L’Antiquaire Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
1972   Exhibition at Sultan Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait
1971   Cities of Gold, Dar Tunis, The Tunisian Cultural Centre, Beirut, Lebanon
1970   Laila Shawa at the Vendome, Hotel Vendome, Beirut, Lebanon
1968   Exhibition of drawings by Laila Shawa, The Book Centre Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
1965   Contrast and Difference, Marna House, Gaza, Palestine
Selected Group Shows
2021   Women in the Arts, INSIDE/OUT, CAP (Contemporary Art Platform), Shuwaikh Industrial, Kuwait and CAP Collection Online through Google Art & Culture (complete set of the Walls of Gaza II series)
2020   Art of Palestinian Women, Museum of the Palestinian People, Washington DC., USA
2019   Dream No Small Dream: Celebrating 40 Years of the Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
Intimate Terrains: Representations of a Disappearing Landscape, The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Palestine (complete set of the Walls of Gaza II series)
Group Show, Gallery of The Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine
2018   Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
2017   Transvangarde 2017, October Gallery, London, UK
2016   Moments of Possibilities: Air, Land and Sea, Qalandiya International III London 2016  ‘This Sea is Mine’, Palestine Regeneration Team (PART), University of Westminster, London, UK 
2015   Art15, London, UK (with October Gallery, London, UK)
Autonomous Gallery: The Conflict and Future of Middle East, P21 Gallery, London, UK
Walls and Margins, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
Bridge to Palestine, Galerie Mark Hachem, Beirut, Lebanon 
2014   35 Years of the Transvangarde: Contemporary Art from Around the Planet, October Gallery, London, UK
Beirut Art Fair, Beirut, Lebanon (with Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon) 
Bridge to Palestine, Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
Sky Over The East, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Art14, London, UK (with October Gallery, London, UK)
2013   Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE (with October Gallery, London, UK)
Muslima: Muslim Women's Art & Voices, muslima.imow.org
The World of Extraordinary Objects, October Gallery, London, UK
Abu Dhabi Art, Abu Dhabi, UAE (with October Gallery, London, UK)
Art13, London, UK (with October Gallery, London, UK)
Resilience and Light, Studio 3 Gallery, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
Between Desert and Sea, a selection from the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan, Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey 
2012   The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society, The Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, USA
Refractions, P21 Gallery, London, UK
AKA Peace, Phillips de Pury, London, UK
AKA Peace, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK 
2011   Passport to Palestine, La Scatola Gallery, London, UK
Abu Dhabi Art Fair, Abu Dhabi, UAE (with October Gallery, London, UK)
    Al Bab, A Gateway to Contemporary Arab Art, Sotheby’s, London, UK
Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE (with October Gallery, London, UK)
2010 - 11   Miragens: Contemporary Art in the Islamic World, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, touring to : Sao Paolo,
Brasilia, Brazil
2010   Sajjil, A Century of Modern Art, Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar
    Co-incidence, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France
    Crunchtime: Artist’s Responses to the Global Crisis, International Visual Arts Event, York, UK
Creative Palestinian Art, Competition, Exhibition & Publication, The Art Sawa Awards, Alquoz Dubai, UAE
Concerning Angels, Janet Rady Fine Art, London, UK
Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE (with October Gallery, London, UK)
2009 - 10   Contemporary Calligraphic Art from the Arab World, Nabad Gallery, Jabal Amman, Jordan
2009   Middle Eastern and European Art, the Recessionists, Somerset, UK
    Arabesque: Arts from the Arab World, the Kennedy Centre, Washington, D.C., USA
Transvangarde 2009, October Gallery, London, UK
Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE, (with October Gallery, London, UK)
2008   Arab Print, Edition I, Meem Gallery, Dubai, UAE
    Routes, Middle Eastern and Arab Art, Waterhouse & Dodd, London, UK
    Roads Were Open, Roads Were Closed, Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE
    Mediterraneo, Italian Cultural Institute, London, UK
    Spring Show, October Gallery, London, UK
    Word into Art, a British Museum touring exhibition, The Atrium, DIFC, Dubai, UAE
Occupied Space 2008: Art for Palestine, The Mosaic Rooms, London, UK
2006   Word into Art, British Museum, London, UK
    Text Messages, October Gallery, London, UK
2005   Walled In: Walled Out, Laila Shawa and Noa Lidor, Green Cardamom, London, UK (complete set of the Walls of Gaza I series)
2003   Religion, Art and War, Maison Des Artes, London, UK
    Transvangarde: Contemporary Art from Around the World, (October Gallery), Kulturbrauerei, Berlin, Germany
2002   Between Legend and Reality, Modern Art from the Arab World, Reykjavik Art Museum and Akureyri Art Museum, Iceland
    From the Ocean to the Gulf and Beyond: Arab Contemporary Art, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
2002-11   Breaking the Veils: Women Artists from the Islamic World, touring exhibition organised by the Royal Society of Fine Arts, Jordan, and Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network F.A.M. (Femme-Artist-Méditerranée) based in Greece which travelled throughout Europe, Australia and USA (complete set of the Walls of Gaza II series)
2002   A Thousand Ways of Being. Memory and Presence in the Arts of Diasporas, October Gallery, London, UK
    Masterstrokes: Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy, October Gallery, London, UK
    Transvangarde, An Artistic World Wide Web, October Gallery, London, UK
2001   Twelve Arab Artists, Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
2000   First International Forum for a Culture of Peace by Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network, Rhodes, Greece
1999 - 00   Dialogue of the Present, Hot Gallery, Bath; Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth;
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London; Pittshanger Manor Gallery, London;
Brighton University Gallery, Brighton, UK
1998 - 00   Art Beyond Borders, UNESCO and TIMOTCA (The International Museum of Twentieth Century Art); UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France; Mitra Municipal Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal; Las Vegas Art Museum, USA
1998   Mediterranea, Grand Palais, Brussels, Belgium
1997   Artistes palestiniens contemporains, Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
1996   Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
    Contemporary Arab Artists, the World Bank Gallery, the World Bank Building, Washington DC., USA
    The Right to Write: Calligraphic Works from the Collection of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, The Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College, Decatur,
Georgia, USA
1995 - 97   The Right to Hope, One World Art, UN travelling exhibition starting in Johannesburg, South Africa, travelling to The Palestinian National Authority; Israel; Northern Ireland; Eastern Europe; India; Australia; Chile; and the United Nations (complete set of the Walls of Gaza II series)
1995   Contemporary Middle Eastern Art, John Addis Gallery, British Museum, London, UK
    Artists’ View, The Arab World, Willamette Arts Gallery, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, USA
1994 - 95   Forces of Change, Artists of the Arab World, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Dudley House, Lehman Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; The Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago, IL; Wolfson Gallery and Central Gallery, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami FL; Nexus Contemporary Art Centre, Atlanta, GA; Bedford Gallery,Walnut Creek, CA; Gwinnett Arts Center, Duluth, GA, USA (complete set of the Walls of Gaza I series)
1994   Shawa and Wijdan, October Gallery, London, UK (complete set of the Walls of Gaza I and II series)
    From Exile to Jerusalem, Al-Wasiti Art Centre, Jerusalem, Israel
1993   Exhibition of Limited Prints Editions at SAGA, Salon de l’estampe et de l’édition d’art à Tirage limité, Grand Palais, Paris, France
1992   Three Artists from Gaza: Fayez Al Hasani, Kamel al Mughanni and Laila Shawa, The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan (complete set of the Walls of Gaza I series)
1990   Malaysian Experience, National Art Gallery of Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1989   Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, Barbican Centre, London, UK
1988   The Baghdad Biennale, Saddam Centre, Baghdad, Iraq
1987   Arab Women Artists in the UK, Kufa Gallery, London, UK
1978 - 87   Rashad Shawa Cultural Center:
Working closely with the UK-based architect, Saad Mohaffel, Shawa managed the logistics of this massive construction project, for which she also designed the stained-glass windows. Finally, completed during these years of occupation, the building of the Cultural Center was nothing short of a miracle because of severe restrictions imposed on supplies of essential building materials. 
1968 - 78   With Palestinian Union of Artists, based in Beirut, exhibitions in most
Arab countries, North Africa, Russia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Europe,
UK and USA
Selected Public Collections

Bank of Palestine Museum, Ramallah Branch, Palestine
DIFC, Dubai, UAE
MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art , Doha, Qatar
Spazio Brazzà, Moruzzo, Italy
The Arab Bank Limited, Amman, Jordan
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK
The Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
The Benevolent Society, Gaza, Palestine
The British Museum, London, UK
The Burrell Collection, Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland
The Khaled Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan
The Kuwait Fund, Kuwait City, Kuwait
The Museum of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland
The NABU Art Museum, Lebanon
The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
The National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA
The Palestinian Union of Artists, Beirut, Lebanon
The Rashad Shawa Cultural Center, Gaza, Palestine
The TIMOTCA, Las Vegas, USA
The Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
The World of Islam Festival Trust, London, UK