“This country was wrought by people who lived on the land, and by people who lived off the sea,” says the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts on Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) MFA in Design alumna, as she explains the concept behind ‘Synergy’ an exhibition organized and curated by Derouiche, and by Tariq Al Jaidah who founded the Eiwan gallery in Al Gassar Resort — where the display is on show until the January 23 – with the vision of developing the art production landscape in Qatar.
“For that reason, when we had the idea to conduct an exhibition for Qatar’s National Day, we wanted it to reflect that synergy; that deep-rooted circular connection between people who lived in a bygone era, and those who live here now – their lives and livelihoods intertwined by the sea and the land.”
And one’s appreciation of the ideation and detail on display is amplified by the fact that Derouiche and Al Jaidah formed a collective with the aim of collaborating with local talent, and invited Qatar-based artists Ahmed Al Bahrani, Ahmed Al Maadheed, Azzam Al Mannai, and Fatima Al Shaiban, and local craft masters Umm Atiq AL Marri and Mohammed Al Balkoum to contribute bespoke artwork to the exhibition – all in under two months.
As Derouiche – Designer and Creative Director, House of Arts – describes the concept and creative processes behind Synergy, one thing becomes clear: the exhibition emerged from the singular desire of a group of young artists and designers to showcase their respect and admiration for the country they call home.
It is an emotion that is palpable to a visitor entering the gallery; almost immediately, one’s attention is drawn to two large hand-woven wall-hangings made using sadu, a weaving technique traditionally associated with the region, and sofra, the craft of plaiting palm leaves.
Further down are decorative leather hangings depicting symbols. Aerial photographs juxtaposing human activities against the stark emptiness of the desert, sculptures that portray Qatar’s increasing global presence, poetry cast in concrete, and canvases that harken back to a simpler lifestyle, make up the rest of the display.
“In order to respect and learn from another culture, you first must make the effort to understand it,” says the Tunisian-born designer. “I feel it’s exciting when people from abroad – expats like myself – explore the resources available locally, and use their individual interpretation to create something beautiful from it. In a way, it’s our way of contributing to Qatar.
“On a personal level, I have spent the last three years exploring the art and design landscape here, working with local artists and craftsmen in souqs to first appreciate the rich artistic heritage of the country, and then to collaborate with them, often giving traditional designs a contemporary twist.”
References to the country’s history can also be seen in the mustard-hued wall-hangings made of camel leather; laser-engraved patterns– inspired by the symbols used by Qatari tribes to brand their herds of sheep, camels or goats to prevent them from getting lost or stolen – start out at one end of the hide, and then blend into a single pattern on the other, signifying Qatar’s journey from a cluster of tribes to the unified country that it is today.
Derouiche has another piece of interesting information to share; when quizzed on the materials used to fashion the artwork, her eyes light up.
“Almost all the materials used in the exhibition are sourced from Qatar,” she says. “But if you really want to know the exact sources, the leaves used to fashion the haseer on one of the wall-hangings were taken from the date palm in front of my apartment in The Pearl. You can’t get more local – or sustainable – than that!”
On 4 February 2021, the 17th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup™ officially kicked off in Qatar, with…0 Views | the publication reaches you by | Qatar Today
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