Saudi artist draws on her own life to create ‘inspiring’ studio

Students take to colors, paints and brushes to learn fine arts at the SK Art Studio in Jeddah. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 25 July 2018
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Saudi artist draws on her own life to create ‘inspiring’ studio

  • The young Saudi artist improved her talent and knowledge by studying art history and exploring the work of the great masters
  • She also studied at art institutes in Jeddah and at the Chelsea College of Art in London

JEDDAH: A Jeddah art studio is setting out to help people of all ages — from children to adults — unlock their artistic potential in a relaxed and inspiring environment.

Sarah Kutbi, founder of the SK Art Studio, believes art’s role is boundless and can even be a form of expressive therapy that allows people to express their emotions in a healthy way, improving their well-being.

“People are starting to realize and understand the value of art, and are investing more in the talents of the younger generation,” she told Arab News. Kutbi discovered her passion for art when she was only eight, and recalls experimenting with colors, paints and brushes.

The young Saudi artist improved her talent and knowledge by studying art history and exploring the work of the great masters. She also studied at art institutes in Jeddah and at the Chelsea College of Art in London.

Today she paints in her small studio, surrounded by art pieces created by herself and her students.

The studio opened two months ago, and now offers advanced workshops for adults and classes for beginners of all ages. The studio holds several workshops a month, with classes of two or three hours for adults and children aged 6 and above.

“I believe that art has no age, but I like to focus on younger talents as I believe they have potential that needs to be grasped and developed early,” Kutbi said.

She came up with the idea for the studio a few years ago and, with support from friends and family, was able to bring it to life.

“I tried to create a comfortable and inspiring space with all the necessary tools to help people learn and explore.” Kutbi produces paintings on canvas using oil, charcoal and acrylic paint. She said that her style is never constant and always changing.

“I haven’t reached the maturity level I’m aiming for. I believe, as the great Leonardo da Vinci said: ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned.’ Right now I find myself more fascinated with pop serialism.”

At the studio, Kutbi joins several professional trainers and art coaches to teach students different styles of art, such as portraits, abstracts and nature.

The creative scene in Saudi Arabia is witnessing a renaissance with new art galleries opening, and art events and exhibitions encouraging artists such as Kutbi to display their work.

The artist believes that there is a lot of hidden talent in the country that she hopes her studio can help uncover.

“This is the reason I opened the studio. I want to help people discover their talents from an early age. I recognize from personal experience that one needs to develop this gift by learning different techniques and approaches, which I don’t believe can be taught in school,” she said.

In the future, Kutbi hopes to expand the studio and create a hub for the artistic community, a place where people can meet and celebrate their creativity.


Carpet Diem: Notes on a cultural icon

‘The World’s Ugliest Carpet.' (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Carpet Diem: Notes on a cultural icon

DUBAI: Five things we learned at Carpet Oasis, the annual festival in Dubai.

The biggest carpet on the planet

No surprise that the world’s largest carpet was created in Iran — Persian rugs are widely regarded as the global benchmark for excellence. No surprise either that it’s installed at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the UAE — a country with a hunger for breaking ‘world’s biggest …’ records that is probably record in itself. The big rug’s dominant color is green (Sheikh Zayed’s favorite, apparently, and — handily — the color generally associated with Islam). It consists of 2.2 billion hand-tied knots and 38 tons of cotton and wool, and was constructed by a team of 3,000 workers.

The most expensive carpet ever sold

In 2013, an anonymous buyer — believed to be from the Middle East — paid $33.8 million for this sickle-leaf carpet, believed to have been created in the early 17th century in Persia. The price was completely unexpected. Sotheby’s, the auction house, had estimated a sale of around $7 million for the relatively small (2.67 by 1.96 meters) ‘vase-techinque’ carpet from the William A. Clark Collection. But the phone buyer refused to concede, sending the price spiralling to more than three times the previous record.

The oldest carpet known to man

This Russian pile carpet survived from, at least, the 4th century BCE until it was discovered well over 2000 years later in the tomb of a Siberian prince. Who clearly didn’t have cats. As was customary at the time, the prince was buried with his most treasured possessions, the majority of which were stolen by grave robbers at some point over two millennia. But the hole they left behind allowed snow to pile up inside, helping to preserve the carpet until the tomb was found again in 1948. The carpet is now in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

The alpha-carpet

Described at Carpet Oasis as ‘The World’s Most Famous Carpet’ — which is tricky to verify given most people can’t name a carpet besides “my living room one” — the Ardabil Carpet is actually one of a pair of silk-and-wool Persian rugs currently belonging to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They were created in the mid-16th century and come with an inscription from the work of Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi and the central design is based on the interior of the dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan.

The eyesore

Billed as ‘The World’s Ugliest Carpet’ — a claim that would surely be hotly contested by anyone growing up in the West in the Seventies — this monstrosity from Portland Airport in Oregon, USA has become something of an ironic hipster icon, its hideous pattern (based on the airport’s runways) and color scheme replicated on socks, hats and bicycle helmets. The carpet has its own website and social media accounts (yes, it’s more popular than you…) When the airport announced it was going to be replaced, online outrage ensued, and it was recycled into wall hangings and door mats. Rest easy though, its replacement is almost equally aesthetically offensive.