Leila el Rayes

I have been working with a group of writers and creatives for many months now, for West Space’s online platform OFFSITE.

With my invitation to be a part of this collection, I asked Shareeka, Sofiyah, Hana and Tabitha to respond to the theme of ‘Casual-Paradise’ in any way they felt drawn to. I settled on the theme not long after the last lockdown of 2021, awoken serendipitously by a recommended YouTube video at 3am.

What does paradise look like to you?

For me, it’s laughter around a dinner table.

Then I wondered what others imagined it to be.

Contributions to this issue of OFFSITE are imaginative as such. They are diaristic and personal, portals to other worlds inside and beyond. With lightness and lucidity, their authors present us with recurring themes of grief, friendship, utopia, healing and the reciprocity of interior and exterior worlds, in combination, in allyship, in secret, in spite of each other.

As a project that has rumbled along for many months, it feels strange to make it publicly known without acknowledging how recent times have been curdled with grief in my community. At the time of publishing, the notion of paradise is entwined with connotations of the afterlife.

To our friends



in between

and those travelling endlessly everywhere

Leila el Rayes’ work celebrates vulnerability between melding identities and contexts. Working across sculpture, costume-making performance and video, their practice delves into ideas of hardship, desire and uncertainty to uncover moments of intricacy, fragility and beauty.