As part of the waterfront development at the central Jeddah Corniche, efforts are under way to transform Jeddah into a virtual sculpture park as restoration of 27 steel sculptures by various internationally renowned artists is already underway.
Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) has commissioned Plowden & Smith, the UK company specialized in sculpture restoration, to refurbish and maintain 27 steel sculptures that have deteriorated in recent years.
The sculptures include works Henry Moore (UK), Victor Vazarelly and Cesar Baldicini (France), the Joan Miro (Spain), Alexander Calder (US), Jane ARB (Germany), and Arab artists including Mustafa Sunbul (Egypt) and Rabi’a Al Akhras (Syria).
Some of the restoration work will take place in a 700-square-meter workshop prepared inside Abdul Latif Jameel Co. The workshop is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment required for the maintenance of sculptures. Bloudan and Smith, the British company specialized in
maintenance of such kind of sculptures. In addition to Bloudan and Smith’s participation, Mtec is responsible for dismantling and reassembling the sculptures; the Mexican Luxpupoli will oversee the lighting of the sculptures; and Brandsaint, a publisher, is preparing illustrative maps for visitors to Jeddah and for others who are interested in sculpture.
The sculptures have been divided into two groups based on size.
The first group, made up of 21 sculptures, was dismantled and transported to the workshop for maintenance, while the second group, made up of six sculptures, were refurbished on-site. The maintenance program includes a training program for Saudi artists on preventive restoration works. An agreement also was signed with a local contractor to perform welding and other steel work under the supervision of Plowden & Smith. In addition to the restoration of existing works, a special area for displaying sculptures has been set aside on 700 square meters north of Al Anani Mosque. The area will truly be an open-air museum for Jeddah residents and visitors.
Fadi Jameel, President of ALJ Community Initiatives International, said that ALJCI International is proud to cooperate with the Municipality to restore this rare collection of sculptures and to restore to Jeddah its former beauty and glory. Jameel added that this is only the first stage of a many faceted project, and will be followed by other phases of restoration of all public sculptures in Jeddah. ALJCI is preparing a special book on the work that is being written by the British writer Edward Booth who is assisted by the Saudi researcher Maryam Bloding. In addition, a documentary on the restoration will be made.
Restoration works and re-installation of the sculptures will be completed in the next few months.