Calligraffiti: eL Seed’s Message of Peace and Hope

eL Seed is a French-Tunisian artist who creates in an Arabic tongue. He describes his style of street art as ‘calligraffiti’ – a seamless blend of graffiti and Arabic calligraphy and script.

eL Seed's calligraffiti adorns the entrance of one of Melbourne's street art laneways.

eL Seed's calligraffiti adorns the entrance of one of Melbourne's street art laneways.

eL Seed’s distinct style was born on the streets of Paris then later spread around the world. Walls in many cities, from the laneways of Melbourne and New York to the “lost walls” found in Tunisia’s desert landscape, serve as eL Seed’s canvases for distinct and meaningful messages. eL Seed chooses verses from the Qoran to underscore a sense of meaning for the area in which his artwork appears. His work has been exhibited on many occasions, too.

I was drawn to Arabic calligraphy and script while travelling through Syria a few years ago. What struck me about the language was its unbridled ability to be shaped beautifully, forming flowing pieces of artwork in itself. Each Arabic letter can be twisted, curled and intertwined into one another to speak poetically to its reader. This beauty is evident in eL Seed’s work and it’s hard not to sit and look at his creations for a length of time.

eL Seed's work frames a pastie from another artist featured in Melbourne's Hosier Lane.

eL Seed's work frames a pastie from another artist featured in Melbourne's Hosier Lane.

I was also privileged to view eL Seed’s work in Melbourne when his intriguing pieces adorned my hometown’s famed street art laneways a year after my trip to Syria. What drew me to eL Seed’s work was that same, unexplained force that drew me to Arabic calligraphy and script in Syria during my travels. Like in Syria, I experienced a beauty and peace so profound that translation wasn’t required for me.

Since then, I have taken extensive classes in Arabic with the hope that, one day, I can be fluent in this beautiful language. I struggle to read eL Seed’s work, but I can recognise particular letters and small words here and there. eL Seed believes that Arabic script speaks to anyone, no matter what language they speak. I am grateful that through my travels I have learned to realise that he may be right. 

Identifying Arabic letters within eL Seed's colourful strokes.

Identifying Arabic letters within eL Seed's colourful strokes.

Are you familiar with eL Seed’s work? Have you seen his work in your city? I’d love to hear where you’ve seen his creations.

eL Seed is also being featured through his talk at TED which can be viewed here.

You can visit eL Seed’s website for more information and to view more stunning photos of his work.