Despite her passion for art, Elizabeth Zachariah, better known as Eleyah, never attended art school.
But the ‘Doha Artist Collective’ founded by Eleyah is gaining the attention and love of art enthusiasts of Qatar.
Hailing from Kochi but living in Doha, Eleyah pursued graphic design for better job prospects and buried her love for art.
She has done full-time and part-time jobs, but also quit them to spend more time with the family. But art made a dramatic re-entry into her life in the form of a collective.
Members of the Doha Artist Collective at an exhibition
“I pushed myself from the inside out and refined my skills over the years. As a child I wanted to make art, but 20 years ago I couldn’t even think of convincing my parents. For most of them, art is just a hobby and not a profession, ”said Eleyah.
The turning point
Life took a U-turn when she visited an art workshop while on vacation in the UK. Her first painting showed her boarding school in Ooty. And it earned her awards.
“At that time, I was thinking with a friend of founding a collective in Doha with several other groups for cooking, gardening and similar activities. A couple of close friends came along and we started sketching at least once a week. Our main goal was to motivate each other to create art, ”recalls Eleyah.
One of Eleyah’s paintings
This happened five years ago. The collective now has over 20 active members.
When she felt the collective was gaining momentum, she designed a logo and started an Instagram page.
This appealed to many more artists, some of them professionals, who all spent their mornings sketching together in a coffee shop.
A combined image of Eleyah’s works
They even took part in a group exhibition, a milestone on the fabulous journey of the Doha Artist Collective.
“The management of the collective and my small children was quite exhausting in the beginning, because I didn’t decide to bring them to the daycare centers. But the schedule was flexible and I got great support from my fellow artists. Now that my children are more independent, everything is fine, ”she added.
Inherited the entrepreneurial spirit
Eleyah comes from a well-known entrepreneurial family based in Kochi. Her father, John Paul Kuttukaran, is the owner of Popular Vehicles and Services Ltd. Your brother and other relatives are also in the same business. “My father had no choice but to start the family business. But he made sure we didn’t end up in the same boat. He firmly believes that your inner drive drives you to business. So we were encouraged to follow our passions, ”she said.
Eleyah’s husband is from Kottayam and works for the World Cup team in Qatar.
Eleyah with her husband Zachariah and children Jay and Aimee
You have two children.
“They are all happy that I finally found my way, but starting a group in Doha was difficult due to the lack of a network. With the support of my family, it would have been a lot easier here in Kerala, ”she added.
Life after the pandemic
Eleyah with co-artists at her workplace
The pandemic was initially tough for the collective. “Like others, we were stuck at home. But after a month’s break, we resumed our online activities. We tried to support each other and get them out of the art block. The situation has changed and Qatar is slowly opening up again. We are now holding physical meetings, ”said Eleyah happily.
The collective has become a hotspot over the past two years thanks to Instagram.
One of Eleyah’s works
“Instagram is an open space and helps to connect with the world as a whole. I get commissioned work from all over the world and have already sent works to London, Canada, Slovakia, New Zealand and Poland. My preferred category is architecture-inspired watercolors, ”said Eleyah, who also teaches virtual art to students from different parts of the world.
Straight from the heart
“I see drawing as a language. When languages were not yet developed, people must have used drawings to communicate. It also prompts you to look around and watch things closely, ”said Eleyah.
It took years for her to devote herself to the arts and slowly develop it into an income generating activity.
For women who prioritize family over career or talent, Eleyah is a real inspiration.
Eleyah with her fellow artists.
“I had the privilege to get external support by whatever means to make my interests come true. It won’t be the same for everyone. Following your passion may be a luxury for some, but struggle for others. Either way, remember to place you as a person first. Everything else will follow, ”said Eleyah.