Artist Hala Kaiksow weaves together Bahrain’s past and present

An outfit designed by Hala Kaiksow.
Updated 28 August 2018

Artist Hala Kaiksow weaves together Bahrain’s past and present

  • Making clothes that women can wear with ease is a key aim of the visionary designer

LONDON: Currently on show at London’s Victoria & Albert museum as part of its Jameel Prize 5 exhibition, which runs until Nov. 25, is the striking work of Bahraini artist Hala Kaiksow. Arab News caught up with the designer to learn more about how she incorporates traditional Bahraini craftsmanship into her luxurious contemporary garments.

Making clothes that women can wear with ease is a key aim of the visionary designer.

 “I love fluid, soft garments that complement the body while still being functional. I particularly like jumpsuits or pants that enable a woman to move freely. I use Bahraini national garments but re-contextualize them to suit the needs and lifestyles of women today,” Kaiksow told Arab News.

There is a strong focus on using natural fabrics and processes and then adding a contrasting manmade element in her work.

“We mostly use natural fibers, which we also dye naturally with different plants and trees to achieve the desired colors. I also like to play with manmade materials to juxtapose the natural with the manmade. For (the most recent) collection I used latex, but in a special way as I had the latex embroidered with mother of pearl,” she said.

For Kaiksow, who did her BA in Fine Arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, Boston, and her MA in Collection Design at Polimoda, the renowned Italian fashion institute, the design process has an almost meditative quality.

“For me weaving is almost therapeutic. When I am weaving I enter a meditative state. It’s hours and hours of work just setting up the loom and going back and forth. I try to give the garments soul — something that I think is sadly missing from clothing today.

“We have a throwaway culture, but clothing should not be disposable. It should be like an investment — garments you keep for the rest of your life.”


‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

Updated 19 April 2019

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

  • National Museum in Riyadh hosts digital show that tells the story of Mosul, Palmyra, Aleppo and Leptis Magna

JEDDAH: An exhibition that uses digital technology to revive the region’s ancient sites and civilizations that have been destroyed or are under threat due to conflict and terrorism opened at the National Museum in Riyadh on April 18.

“Age-Old Cities” tells the story of four historically significant cities that have been devastated by violence: Mosul in Iraq, Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria, and Leptis Magna in Libya. 

Using stunning giant-screen projections, virtual reality, archival documents and images, and video testimonials from inhabitants of the affected sites, the immersive exhibition transports visitors back in time and presents the cities as they were in their prime. 

It charts their journey from the origins of their ancient civilizations to their modern-day state, and presents plans for their restoration and repair. 

The exhibition has been organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Riyadh is the first stop outside the French capital on the exhibition’s global tour. 

The exhibition follows last month’s unveiling of the Kingdom’s new cultural vision, which included the announcement of several initiatives, including a new residency scheme for international artists to practice in the Kingdom and the establishment of the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture, said: “I am delighted to welcome the ‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition to Riyadh. 

“It highlights the importance of heritage preservation, particularly here in the Middle East, and the vulnerability of some of our historic sites. 

“It must be the responsibility of governments to put an end to this damage and neglect, and to put heritage at the heart of action, investment, and policy.

“I will be encouraging my fellow members of government to attend this eye-opening exhibition in our National Museum, and hope to work in the future with partners, governments and experts to do what we can to secure our region’s heritage.”

The exhibition carries a significant message about the importance of preserving and protecting these precious but fragile sites — one which resonates strongly in the week when one of the world’s most-famous heritage sites, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, went up in flames.