Bahraini art movement gains momentum in London

ART SHOW: From left, Janet Rady, Dr. Ebrahim Janahi, RT Hon John Whittingdale, Kaneka Subberwal, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa and Aissa Deebi at the private launch reception held at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Updated 26 May 2016
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Bahraini art movement gains momentum in London

LONDON: Under the Patronage of Bahrain’s Ambassador for the United Kingdom Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed, the inaugural BAAB exhibition 2016 kicked off in the heart of London, with 40 unique artworks unveiled during a private launch reception held at the highly-reputed Victoria and Albert Museum. Celebrating Bahrain’s topography, rich culture and traditions, the London collection has been inspired by the first batch of 17 artists of the Bahrain Art Across Borders (BAAB) initiative.

The event also saw the launch of the art catalogue titled BAAB – Bahrain Art Across Borders, featuring all the artists, their profiles and their respective artworks displayed in London.
Commenting on this exclusive event, Tamkeen’s Chief Executive Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, stated: “Art and Culture form the cornerstone of any country’s identity and heritage. It also plays a key role in driving forward economic activity, especially as it is one of the primary gateways for anyone who deals with a country.”
BAAB’s London portfolio reflects the strength, originality and tradition of the Bahraini identity through various forms of visual art, such as painting, sculpture and photography, and depicts a range of inspirations from the Arabian horse and its historic place in traditional Arab culture, to ultra-sound scans, religious iconography, and the art of tea. The inaugural group of BAAB artists representing Bahrain in London comprises both established names in the Bahraini art scene as well as emerging talent, with a predominant female presence that throws light on the growing influence of women artists in the Arab world.
Kaneka Subberwal, Founder of Art Select (a brand of Art and Spice), commented, “Bahrain is renowned for its rich history, culture and heritage and this is further manifested in its creative talent. BAAB London is an ideal platform for our Bahraini artists to showcase their vision to a global audience and link them to art collectors and enthusiasts from across the word.”
The BAAB London 2016 exhibition will be relocated to Gallery 8 from Friday where it will stay for nine days, until June 4, 2016.
The artists include Amina Al-Abbasi, Balqees Fakhro, Ebrahim BuSaad, Faika Al-Hassan, Ghada Khunji, Ghassan Muhsin, Hamed Al-Bosta, Jamal Abdul Rahim, Lulwa Al-Khalifa, Marwa Al-Khalifa, Nabeela Al-Khayer, Noof Alrefaei, Omar Al-Rashid, Taiba Faraj, Sumaya Abdulghani, Mayasa Al-Sowaidi and Mariam Fakhro.


Mystical connection: The African village where crocodiles are welcome

Updated 3 min 23 sec ago
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Mystical connection: The African village where crocodiles are welcome

BAZOULE, Burkina Faso: Crocodiles may be one of the deadliest hunters in the animal kingdom, but in a small village in Burkina Faso it is not unusual to see someone sitting atop one of the fearsome reptiles.
People in Bazoule, around 30 kilometers from the capital Ouagadougou, share their pond with more than 100 of the razor-toothed creatures.
“We got used to the crocodiles when we were young, swimming in the water with them and all that,” said Pierre Kabore, just a few meters (yards) away from a crocodile feasting on chicken provided by the village.
“Now we can always approach them and sit on them — and if you have the courage, you can lie on them too. There’s no problem, they are sacred crocodiles. They don’t do anything to anyone.”
According to local legend, the startling relationship with the predators dates back to at least the 15th century.
The village was in the grip of an agonizing drought until the crocodiles led women to a hidden pond where the population could slake their thirst.
“The villagers organized a party to celebrate and thank the reptiles,” Kabore said.
A celebration known as Koom Lakre is still held every year during which villagers make sacrifices and ask the animals to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest.
Far from being considered a threat, the crocodiles are deemed to have a mystical connection with Bazoule.
“Crocodiles are represented as the soul of our ancestors and if one of them dies, they are buried and even given a funeral as if they were human,” said Kabore.
“When a misfortune is about to happen in the village, they cry out. Elders are charged with interpreting the cries, and then make wishes to ward off bad luck.”
The unusual contact between man and croc has drawn disbelieving tourists to the village to see for themselves.
On their arrival, travelers can buy a chicken which is hung on a stick by a guide and used to entice the crocodiles out of the pond so that visitors can pose with the creatures.
“It was nice to watch from a distance but sitting on one was a bit freaky,” said Thomas Baspin, a young Frenchman who came to visit his grandparents in Burkina Faso.
“I’m glad I did it — but I’m also glad it’s over!” he quipped.
Tourism has become a big money-spinner for the impoverished villagers, but a three-year-old jihadist insurgency in Burkina Faso is taking its toll.
Ouagadougou has come under attack three times, most recently in March, when jihadists attacked the military headquarters and French embassy.
“We could have more than 10,000 visitors per year but at the moment, there’s no more than 4,000 or 5,000,” said Raphael Kabore, one of the guides.
Global warming is also believed to be having an impact. Rainfall levels are down each year, and the famous pond that is the crocodiles’ home is shrinking. When it disappears, will the reptiles once more guide their human friends to a new watery home?