Creative youth from across Saudi Arabia speak up about their art

A participant renders a poem during the event. (AN photo)
Updated 30 June 2018

Creative youth from across Saudi Arabia speak up about their art

  • The founder of the project Ward Magazine is a student of only 18. The project started in December 2017.
  • Ward has organized three events so far and the magazine has seven electronic and one printed edition

JEDDAH: An e-magazine held a special evening on Saturday to enable young Saudis from all over the Kingdom to showcase their ideas, poems and artwork.

Ward Magazine, which was also launching its first printed edition, is an e-magazine that aims to support and encourage artists in Saudi Arabia whatever their ages, nationalities and the topics they want to be discussed in their work.

Due to the limitation of available opportunities and spaces for Saudi-based artists, and their centralization in particular cities, Ward was founded to publish their work, and it includes all forms of creativity.

On June 2, Ward organized a special cultural night giving space to young Saudi dreamers from both genders to disclose their thoughts in a creative, literary way.

The spoken-word event gathered a large number of intellectual, ambitious youth from all over the Kingdom and offered them the chance to showcase their ideas and work.

The theme of the evening was "Beyond the frame." It was presented through three categories, each aiming to deliver a different message through an artwork or a poem by eight participants.

Ward offers painters, writers, photographers and anyone in between the chance to submit their work freely, with no limitations on their age or the topics of their work.

The founder of the Ward project, 18-year-old Khalid Alqahtani, told Arab News: "We wanted art enthusiasts to grow with us by volunteering their skills in editing, translation and graphic design. I created a team of nine people, including myself.”

All of them are secondary school and university students from different disciplines and parts of the Kingdom.

“The main goal of Ward is to give art and literature lovers the opportunity to know the reasons behind the creation of a particular work of art,” Al-Gjahtani said. “I believe that art encompasses all forms of creativity.”

The evening was against the famous quote of "Explanation kills art" because when we hear a poem or a work vision we face endless possibilities for interpretation.

During the event the first printed issue of the magazine was launched for the first time as it is considered the seventh edition of the e-magazine.

Ward Magazine aims to remove the stereotypical ideas about the Saudi nation as a mere geographical border, and to prove that it has a wholly different perspective.

The magazine contains articles, poems and other collective artworks of ever-growing young talents.

Al-Ghahtani said: "We are trying to break down the obstacles that artists face in reaching their audiences, by creating solutions to make their art see the light, such as showcasing their works through exhibitions and electronic editions.”

The event took place at 3alsat7 in Alrawdah district.


Ward and 3alsat7

Ward is an Arabic word referring literally to flowers and metaphorically to youth and beauty. 3alsat7 is an Arabic word for the English phrase "on the roof."

Lebanese Youssef El-Hadi launches accessories brand to honor painter Celia El-Hadi

Youssef El-Hadi is the grandson of the Lebanese painter Celia El-Hadi. (Supplied)
Updated 16 September 2019

Lebanese Youssef El-Hadi launches accessories brand to honor painter Celia El-Hadi

BEIRUT: When Beirut-based architecture student Youssef El-Hadi was 20, he decided to launch a passion project that affectionately honors his late grandmother, the little-known Lebanese painter Celia El-Hadi, who died in 2009.

Founded in 2018, Celia Creations is a small but meaningful, all-Lebanese brand  — from concept to production — that ingeniously incorporates a selection of Celia’s vivid paintings onto small clutches and handbags, meticulously crafted by Youssef, assisted by local manufacturers and artisans.

“People in Lebanon are obsessed with Chanel, Louis Vuitton and all these brands,” Youssef told Arab News. “So, they forget the jewels that we have in our country.”

Youssef El-Hadi decided to launch Celia Creations when he was 20. (Supplied)

During his adolescence, the designer was influenced by Celia’s nurturing presence. She accompanied him to exhibitions, taught him how to draw and paint, and enlightened him through conversations on art and culture. “My grandmother was the first one in my family to have this drive for art,” he said. “I thought a woman like Celia — someone so giving and thoughtful — should have the recognition that she didn’t get when she was alive. That’s why I started the brand.”

Youssef El-Hadi ingeniously incorporates a selection of Celia’s vivid paintings onto small clutches and handbags. (Supplied)

A bold beauty with bouffant hair and arching eyebrows, Celia led a fascinating, cosmopolitan life: born in Mexico (where her family established soap factories), she was educated in Egypt, and travelled to Europe — all of which were quite unheard of for a woman whose family came from the Lebanese village of Bzebdine. As an artist, Celia was mentored by respected Lebanese artists Aref El-Rayess and Rafic Sharaf, and became a dedicated art instructor herself, teaching at Beirut’s Russian Cultural Center and the Soeurs des Saints Coeurs schools in Hadath and Ghazir.

Celia Creations is an all-Lebanese brand — from concept to production. (Supplied)

Highly productive during the 1970s and 1980s, Celia created around 4,000 works of art. She tried her hand with the classical themes of portraiture, still-life and landscape painting, often portraying people and places that meant the most to her. She once said that she preferred to paint in oil, “because it obeys me more and makes me feel more comfortable.”

Aside from producing charming imagery, Celia also pushed boundaries in terms of style, according to her grandson. “She was one of the first artists in her era to draw nudes and to paint with live models, which was very shocking — a taboo,” said Youssef.

Today, her paintings are found in the family’s residences, a few museums and government buildings in Lebanon, and private collections across the world. After her passing, Celia’s home in Bzebdine was turned into a museum, inviting visitors into Celia’s private world.  

Celia El-Hadi died in 2009. (Supplied)

What makes Celia Creations unique is the thoughtfulness of the overall design of each and every crafted handbag. Elements of Celia’s life and spirit permeate through the smallest of details. For instance, a vintage handbag that Celia formerly owned inspired the shape of the current handbag design. In addition, some of the brand’s bags are embellished with beading stitched by an artisan in Bzebdine who was Celia’s friend.

Most significantly, the clutch’s copper clasp is beautifully engraved with Celia’s own signature, adding a personal touch: “A lot of people told me to do another logo. But I told them that there’s nothing that can top her own signature — it’s as if she actually touched each bag,” Youssef said. Ethics lie at the heart of the brand  — all of the handbags are vegan, meaning leather, fur, and animal skin are not used — something Youssef feels is crucial.

Celia created around 4,000 works of art. (Supplied)

Although Celia Creations is in its infancy, there is significant potential for growth. Youssef plans to expand the brand, but said he is wary of it becoming too commercial. “Anyone who wants to buy our bag needs to know the value of the painting,” he explained. “You’re not buying a handbag, you’re buying a piece of art and you’re buying the spirit and ideology of Celia, a woman who was fearless and always took risks.”