When first meeting Rifah in November last year I was immediately struck by her quietness and poise. From the outset I drew inspiration from the wonderful veiled female portraits of Rogier van der Weyden and Robert Campin, paintings which demonstrate a beautiful stillness and intimacy. The small-scale and focus entirely on the head as seen in Rifah’s portrait is influenced by these Flemish painters.
During our first sitting I worked on a drawing which enabled me to establish both the scale and composition. Straight away I was reminded of my series of Egyptian portraits of female friends in Luxor, and enjoying once again how the shape of the face is framed by the headscarf.