Banksy art to materialise in Vienna with a little Saudi help

Banksy art to materialise in Vienna with a little Saudi help
Banksy’s The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum, adorned with a protective face mask, at Albion Dock, Bristol, Britain, April 23, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 July 2020

Banksy art to materialise in Vienna with a little Saudi help

Banksy art to materialise in Vienna with a little Saudi help
  • The Art of Banksy — Without Limits will be hosted at the prestigious Sofiensäle and will be held from the 23rd of July to the 4th of October
  • NOWAAR’s Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Muhaidib: The Vienna exhibition will be our first European event and marks the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s international cultural outreach

RIYADH: Austrian capital Vienna is set to steal the global cultural limelight as it hosts an exhibition showcasing work from British graffiti artist Banksy. The event, co-organized by Saudi entertainment company NOWAAR, will be a celebration of Banksy’s bold and boundary-pushing work.

“The Art of Banksy — Without Limits” will be hosted at the prestigious Sofiensäle and will be held from the 23rd of July to the 4th of October. The exhibition comes as a herald of hope to the public as people try to overcome the challenges belying the recovery phases of the Covid-19 pandemic. This bestows a global dimension upon the event as it pulls the international culture scene from its involuntary recent torpor.

The exhibition’s uniqueness lies in its diverse programme, allowing it to become a living celebration of the elusive artist’s achievements; A rare glimpse into the socially engaged graffiti artist’s studio will be followed by a 10 minute documentary film about his life and work. The audience will then be given access to 105 Banksy art pieces — originals, photos and prints, sculptures and some installations especially reproduced for the exhibition.

Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Muhaidib, NOWAAR’s chairman of the board, said: “Co-hosting the exhibition with EventS, a European company, comes as a natural continuation of the Kingdom’s evolving cultural landscape, with its growing development and unprecedented openness to international experiences. We have witnessed this with our Banksy Riyadh exhibition, which saw the event turn into a cultural festival that went on to garner considerable local and international acclaim.

“The Vienna exhibition will be our first European event and marks the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s international cultural outreach.”


The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic
Updated 22 June 2021

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

DUBAI: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has sparked new ideas for many entrepreneurs, creatives and artists. One such creative is Dubai-based photographer Tanya Rex.

The South African lenswoman launched The Quaranteen Project, which is ongoing to this date, when lockdowns began last year.   

She sent 30 disposable cameras to 30 teenagers across the world and asked them to document their quarantine experience. The results are unedited and moving realities of the pandemic as seen through the eyes of teenagers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Belarus, Afghanistan, Latvia, South Africa, India, the US, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and more. 

“I wanted it to be as raw as possible and capture the simplicity of what people see every day,” she said in an interview with Arab News.

This image was taken by a teenager in the United States. (Supplied)

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I remember speaking to my husband, and he said: ‘You don’t know these people. They aren’t photographers, and you really don’t know what you are going to get back. Maybe you could use pictures from five of the cameras that come back.’ And I accepted that,” Rex added.

She has so far received 24 rolls of film back, with around 300-400 images. 

Not all rolls of film came back as properly exposed pictures. “Some of them came back with very little effort put in, and some of them came back absolutely exceptional,” she said. 

“It didn’t really matter if I got one photo or 20. Each time, it was like receiving a gift,” Rex added. 

When enough cameras came back to the photographer, she sent the films to South Africa so they could be developed and scanned. 

This image was taken by a teenager in Latvia. (Supplied)

According to Rex, who came to the UAE 17 years ago, it was not easy to deliver the cameras to the teenagers. 

She lost some cameras due to theft, while others took time to be delivered due to the COVID-19 restrictions in some countries.

When discussing the inception of her idea, Rex said that lockdown was exciting for her when it first started.

“I remember seeing an initiative called ‘Together at Home,’ where celebrities invited you into their homes for their private concerts. I thought the idea was incredible. It meant the world was stepping up and we were all uniting,” she said.  

“After two weeks, though, the novelty wore off, and we all settled into the reality of what COVID-19 was,” she added.

This image was taken by a teenager for The ‘Quaranteen’ Project. (Supplied)

The photographer said she went from being enthusiastic at the prospect of having time off to realizing that all her work had been canceled and that there was nothing to look forward to for an indefinite amount of time. It was then that she had the idea to start The Quaranteen Project.

Rex is currently looking into turning her project into a coffee table book. “I think it would be a great way to show these teenagers’ stories in a simple format,” she said. 

Rex has worked for campaigns with international brands including fast-food company McDonald’s and makeup brands Maybelline, Bourjois and Max Factor, among others.   

Her latest campaign was with Adidas — a shoot for the German sportswear giant’s “Run for the Oceans” campaign. 

“It was a great project because, firstly, I got to shoot underwater again, which I haven’t done for a very long time,” she said. “It was also empowering because we were shooting women who have perceived disabilities and differences. They are all proud, strong women who are moving forward with their lives.” 


Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 

Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 
Updated 22 June 2021

Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 

Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 

DUBAI: Popular K-pop girl group Blackpink unveiled the first poster of their film “The Movie” and Arab fans are over the moon. 

The production, set to premier in August, will mark the band’s fifth anniversary in the music industry.  

After the announcement was made, Arab fans quickly took to Twitter to express their excitement. 

“Another movie, and in the cinema?!” wrote one user. “The film’s poster is amazinggg,” another user wrote. 

Other fans made humorous comments about the name of the film. One tweet read: “The name of the movie is ‘The Movie,’” with a clip of an Arab man saying: “Wow, amazing. This surprised me.”

 

Last week, the production company YG Entertainment announced that this film will be part of the group’s 5th-anniversary project, titled “4+1 PROJECT,” and will drop in August to coincide with band members Jisoo, Jennie, Rose, and Lisa’s debut date, August 8. 


Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 June 2021

Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
  • Adel Al-Shehri turns handmade sidr pieces into online phenomenon using local talent, materials

MAKKAH: A young Saudi in the south of the Kingdom is bringing back the timeless craft of hand carving wooden canes with a new look to suit modern tastes, driving demand from Hajj pilgrims and online customers from around the world.

Walking canes have always been associated with the elderly and ill, and usually comprise simple designs that focus more on function rather than appearance.
That association has prompted Adel Al-Shehri to give the concept a new life by bringing back an old craft and turning canes into famous statement pieces used by Saudis.
Through his work, he can convey the cultural and historical essence of Saudi Arabia by engraving cultural designs on sidr wood.
Al-Shehri grew up in the southern mountain ranges of the Kingdom and uses the old indigenous tree to create unique intricately designed canes just as his forefathers once did.
The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

FASTFACT

The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

He told Arab News that he inherited from his ancestors a love of artifacts, such as shiny swords and jambiyas, a type of dagger with a curved blade. Growing up surrounded by architecture adorned in stones and wood, Al-Shehri said that he wanted to bring the rich history of design back using a product found right in his backyard.


“Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs, swords, or canes. However, shipping swords is a real problem, because they are considered white weapons. Meanwhile, some items lose quality or are damaged during shipping. This is why I shifted my entire focus to making canes,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that while carrying out his Hajj pilgrimage, he used his cane as a “crutch,” engraving his name on it. Soon after, he decided to use the phrase “Made in Saudi Arabia” and focus on the Umrah and Hajj seasons to introduce the product as a souvenir that could be carried back home by pilgrims. Al-Shehri said that some Hajj institutions even reached out to give out his canes as gifts at the end of pilgrimage tours.

The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.

Adel Al-Shehri

He said that many people from across the world have requested their canes through Hajj institutions or on social media.
Most recently, he added, a German citizen requested four canes with different designs inspired by Saudi culture, but some customers request personalized canes or ones that are specifically customized to illustrate a memory.
Al-Shehri said that the canes he designs are delivered in handmade luxurious boxes that serve as a masterpiece to be displayed in a customer’s home. He described the cane as a “sign of prestige, warmth, and hospitality.”
The first thing that caught his attention as a child was how his family stores their ancient swords, guns, and jambiyas — all wrapped in ornate fabrics and stored in old boxes.

I inherited the love of artifacts from my ancestors.
Adel Al-Shehri

Al-Shehri had always wanted to put this heritage in the limelight and share it with other Saudi cities. The public’s broad praise of his initial work was the first building block in his dream toward producing his canes. He stressed that he often uses sidr wood for the canes because the diameter must be more than 40 centimeters.
For the wood fibers to grow, the sidr must also be dried for six months. “The handle is made from the core of sidr wood so that it could bear the grafting, which sometimes may reach a thousand grafts inside,” Al-Shehri said. With no educational experience, his drive to create such masterpieces taught him to push through and learn the craft with time and patience. “The manufacturing stages became an inspiration and taught me the ins and outs of this creative craftsmanship, which shaped the features of my personality and led me towards worlds of magic and beauty,” he said.
“I was first concerned with the metal lathe and mastering its unique way of manufacturing accessories and adding wood to them. I then focused on the element of touch and adding luster in the absence of real manufacturers in this field. I insisted on mastering the metal lathe myself so I would not have to depend on anyone else. My workshop, filled with nickel, chrome, stainless steel, and brass, along with the metal and wood lathes, became my best friend.
“I work for hours on end to meet the various requests, especially if a customer places an order for a special occasion with a tight deadline,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that what he and many other craftsmen in the Kingdom do promotes the Saudi culture and is a sign of pride in the Saudi identity. “The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.”


Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist

Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist
Updated 22 June 2021

Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist

Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist
  • Syrian artist Diala Brisly: “It’s very important to show solidarity among refugees”
  • “Courage is having fears, having all this worry, having all this trauma, and still having the energy to keep going”

LONDON: A refugee artist from Syria has created a unique piece of art that captures the spirit and courage of those fleeing war and poverty.
To mark World Refugee Day 2021, which was on Sunday, Diala Brisly created a mural with one key theme: The courage it takes to flee one’s home.
Commissioned by the International Rescue Committee, the piece depicts various people against a backdrop of a bombed city.
Now safe in France, Brisly said her work is about having the “energy to keep going through fear, trauma and upheaval.”
She added that the piece’s message — “refugees are courageous” — captures the essence of what it means to be forcibly uprooted.
“I really like the slogan because it shows strength, regardless of all the troubles that we’re going through,” she said.
The artwork depicts people of various ethnicities and identities, including children, and one man poignantly wearing a life jacket — a staple item of refugee migration across the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere.
“It’s very important to show solidarity among refugees. I believe in solidarity between all people. When we have this struggle in common, and we understand each other’s pain, we’re able to help each other because we share similar experiences,” said Brisly
“The media puts the spotlight on refugees when they’re in the middle of the sea. But it’s very important to understand that the crisis didn’t start in the Mediterranean, it started before,” she added.
“For me, courage is having fears, having all this worry, having all this trauma, and still having the energy to keep going.”
During the revolution against the Assad regime, journalists shared Brisly’s artwork to supplement their reports.
But this exposure, she said, put her life in danger. She fled Syria via Turkey and ended up in France.
Now she uses her talent to create moving works that support the causes she believes in, and runs art therapy workshops for children affected by war.
According to the UN’s refugee agency, nearly 82.4 million people were uprooted in 2020, fleeing war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses.


Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship

Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship
Saudi designer Malak Masallati chooses to preserve the traditional costumes of her country through a collection of wooden dolls called Nasana. (Supplied)
Updated 19 June 2021

Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship

Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship
  • The collection was launched in November 2020 and is currently on display at the Assila Hotel in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Every culture has a special way to tell the story of its people. Saudi designer Malak Masallati chooses to preserve the traditional costumes of her country through a collection of wooden dolls called Nasana (which translates to “our people”).
“Nasana is there to highlight the diverse individuals of Saudi Arabia, with their different backgrounds, ages, stories, traditions, and customs,” Masallati told Arab News, adding that it also reflects the pride Saudis feel for their Kingdom.
The collection was launched in November 2020 and is currently on display at the Assila Hotel in Jeddah. It has previously been exhibited at Shara Art Fair by the Saudi Art Council.

Saudi designer Malak Masallati chooses to preserve the traditional costumes of her country through a collection of wooden dolls called Nasana. (Supplied)

It consists of 15 dolls, each representing a different region of Saudi Arabia. Each character has a name inspired by traditional names from each region, including Saud, Al-Joharah, Nourah, Sitah, Abdulaziz, Itra, Hajjar, Zahra, Haylah, Obaid, Saeed, Amnah, Fatou, Fouad, and Shifa.
“I believe that Saudi Arabia has a vast heritage yet to be discovered (by many). The younger generation possesses the knowledge and creativity that is required to (promote that heritage),” she said, citing the Saudi fashion brand Sleysla, with whom she has previously worked, as a good example.

HIGHLIGHTS

• ‘Nasana’ is a collection of 15 hand-painted wooden dolls representing the traditional costumes of different regions of Saudi Arabia.

• The collection is currently on display in Jeddah and the dolls are also available to buy.

• Most of the collection’s costumes are based on information found in the book ‘Traditional Costumes of Saudi Arabia’ by The Mansoojat Foundation.

Masallati, who has more than 15 years of experience in interior design and residential renovation, is the founder of Dar Malak, a makers’ space in Jeddah dedicated to producing other unique Saudi products. The Nasana collection was itself produced there. The dolls are hand-painted by emerging artists from different Saudi communities working in Dar Malak.
“The collection went through a long design process, trying different techniques with various materials such as paint, gesso, as well as gold and silver leafing,” Masallati explained.
The dolls are based on research carried out online and in the field. “(We) captured stories and researched the facts,” Masallati said. “We traveled to most of these areas and incorporated details we found in Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum in Jeddah, where they showcase beautiful traditional costumes.”
She also mentioned that “Traditional Costumes of Saudi Arabia” — a book produced by the Mansoojat Foundation Collection, a charity dedicated to the preservation of ethnic textiles and designs — was of invaluable assistance to the project.
The Nasana dolls — some of which stand 59 centimeters tall — are also on sale for between SR9,000 and SR11,000 ($2,400-2,933).
Masallati said she and her team intend to expand the collection in the future, and to work with art college graduates. They will also produce a new collection this year, she said.

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