Building bridges

UK and Emirati artists team up to celebrate cuture in Abu Dhabi Discuss this article

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As of February 18, L’Atelier des Arts will play host to a week-long art event which brings together a multicultural group of talents. The impressive line up features UK based artists Harlan Klutey Loganathon, Femi Beckley and Joshua Howland-Roohi. Together they are Diogia, an independent studio established to further their vision of creative diversity. Representing the UAE and working with Diogia on two art workshops over the week are our very own Khawla Al Marri and Zeinab Al Hashemi from Dubai. Having recently sold her acclaimed Women of Arabia piece to auction house Christie’s, Khawla has breathed a new energy into the UAE art scene with her rejection of what she describes as ‘copycat couture’. Visual artist Zeinab’s mixed-media work, which is infused with popular culture and commercial art, has alsobeen making a lot of noise lately.

Now if Diogia’s exhibition of 15 pieces, commissioned exclusively for the event, wasn’t enough to look forward to, L’Atelier has a series of workshops scheduled. The first will be a hands-on educational session on animation, during which Diogia will be producing short animations with children from select Abu Dhabi schools. The second workshop will involve Zeinab, Khawla and the Diogia artists working together on a single piece which will incorporate recyclable materials donated by Masdar. The third and final workshop will be a culmination of what Bridging the Gap is all about. In an environment of cultural exchange and the meeting of creative minds, all artists will work individually to create unique and individual pieces for the public. This workshop will also be open to members of the public who may want to ask questions, interact with the artists or watch the creative process as and when it occurs.

In the run up to the event, we caught up with all of the artists and asked them a few questions about life, art and the Emirates.

Who are you and what do you want?
Diogia: We are an independent creative start-up studio formed by three friends who share a passion for creative expressionism. We want to elevate our work to a wider spectrum and gain a greater following as well as develop as artists through networking and collaborations with other creative professionals.

Zeinab Alhashemi: I’m a young visual artist specializing in multi-media design. I’m on a mission to explore the art scene in the area, and make a mark in the art world.

Khawla Al Marri: I’m an Emirati woman who wants to share her culture with the world using different genres of contemporary art.

Describe yourself in no more than 25 words.
Diogia: We are friends who share a passion for art and have pursued what we love. But most importantly we are three very down to earth guys.

Khawla Al Marri: I love creating things that carry a story and a certain message behind it. I’m still a learner and I aim to become a professional in my field.

Zeinab Alhashemi: As an artist, life inspires me to create visuals that tell a story. I’m very passionate, analytical, keenly perceptive and determined.

Ok, that was 26 for Diogia but we’ll let you off. Describe your work for this exhibition (use as many word as you like – knock yourself out).
Diogia: The work for this exhibition is celebrating UAE culture and its emerging potential to have a positive and strong impact on the rest of the world. We hope the work will give our audience a more in-depth understanding of our cultural backgrounds and will also give people an idea of how we perceive the Emirates, and the influence it’s currently having on the world.

Zeinab Alhashemi: I’m very eager to be working along with the other artists. My aim is to create a significant, smart and simple piece that will represent Abu Dhabi culture. I’m thinking of a contemporary art sculpture. I prefer not to talk a lot about the work until the workshop day.

Khawla Al Marri: I’ll be creating huge paintings that will contain detailed images of my beloved country. I’m proud of it so my pride will definitely show in my work.

Diogia, have you been to the UAE before?
Diogia: This is our first time in the UAE, and we are honoured and excited to be given this opportunity.

Zeinab, can you paint us a visual image of what represents UAE culture to you?
Zeinab Alhashemi: The UAE is a civilized Islamic country, and some of our ethics are truth, hospitality and faith in god – all of which are strongly present in Emiratis.

Khawla, why ‘Bridging the Gap’?
Khawla Al Marri: Because introducing culture is a ‘connection’.

The Educational Workshop will take place on February 18 from 10am-8pm; the Masdar Workshop on February 22 from 11am-8pm; and the Emirati Workshop will be on February 23 11am-9pm. More info on the Bridging the Gap event is available at L’atelier des Arts, Fotouh Al Khair Centre (02 639 7104).

By Elest Ali
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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