A portrait of Rayan Elnayal
Rayan Elnayal

Rayan Elnayal is the curator and moderator of Creating While Black: in the SWANA region and its diaspora. Part of the Shubbak Festival 2021 talks programme, the event takes place on 5th July, 6pm (BST) and features a diverse panel of Black creatives from the region and its diaspora including Amna Ali, Colette Dalal Tchantcho, Nareeman Dosa and Khalid Albaih.

Rayan is a Sudanese-British artist/designer based in London. She uses the skills she obtained from her background in architecture to visualise and speculate on fictional spaces. Her particular area of interest is in how magic realism techniques can aid the production of ethnocentric futurisms in Sudan, the SWANA region and its diaspora. Her interest in magic realism and the idea of Afrabia initially started as part of her architecture thesis project at the University of Greenwich and remains an ongoing body of work. Since graduating Rayan has featured in several publications and exhibitions in London, and she has worked on architectural projects in the education sector.

We asked Rayan to answer some quick questions to find out more about her.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A designer/artist/curator.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

To believe in your talents.

Who is your biggest influence and why?

Writer Tayeb Salih and artist Ibrahim El Salahi for their incredible and very daring work.

Who is the one person you would like to have dinner with and why?

Artist Ibrahim El Salahi.

Where is your favourite place on this planet?

Khartoum, Sudan because it is my home.

What’s currently on your playlist?

Sudanese Haqeeba music and Arabic music from the 90s and 00s.

What gives you inspiration?

Art and architecture that positively impacts our built environment. People who stand up for themselves and their communities despite hardships and other anxieties.

What is your favourite film of all time?

Blue Elephant.

What’s your favourite meal?

Foul medamas.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?

Yinka Llori, an incredible designer/artist who does not shy away from using an aesthetic that is personal to him despite the designs industry’s lack of diversity.

What’s the last conversation you had that inspired you?

A conversation with a friend who is a mentor and activist in the architecture and design industry who reminded me that there is more than one route to take in the field.

What is the truest, most beautiful life you can imagine?

Being able to create your work unfiltered without compromise.

What was your first job as an artist/curator/producer?

Solo exhibition at P21 Galley, which included talks on the project.

Who or what has been your biggest influence?

Sudanese art always influences me, be it music/fashion/ visual arts because of its familiarity. It is always inspiring to see how artist take from cultural/ historical cues to create beautiful artwork.