We are delighted to announce the graduation of 14 alumni from the PFSTA 2018-19 traditional arts programme at the Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Jeddah. Through the academic year, participants have been studying the crafts inherent in the historic Jeddah’s Al-Balad. For their final projects, they were asked to design a product that responds to the visual languages of Al-Balad, a unique location that reflects the rich influence of cultures passing through Jeddah for pilgrimage or via historic trade routes.
The participants’ creative response was as varied as Al Balads influences such as: a decorative large scale screen of carved wooden frames drawn from the shared architectural language between Al Balad, KSA and Suakin, Sudan; painted panels using motifs from the historic house Ribat Al-Khunji Al-Sagheer, with hand-made paints; a window screen representing the artist’s combined heritage of Saudi Arabia and Syria, using patterns from the Ummayed mosque, Damascus, with mangour and gypsum craft designs from Jeddah.
Another graduate has undertaken extensive research on the motifs of the traditional ghabana (turban/shawl) representing the winter and summer journeys between Yemen and Syria, passing through Mecca. The research was presented as a large scale painting on gesso panel.
The most touching part for our PFSTA teachers, came from the end of year reviews, where participants present their projects and share their wider experience during the programme. All mentioned warmly their reconnection to their local heritage and shared history, also expressing how this connection has changed their artistic, spiritual and personal lives, with accounts of an awakening of their connection to the beauty of the order of nature.
The end-of-year exhibition opened for private viewing on 29 April. The exhibition drew a large crowd on the opening night, and received wide praise for the quality of the work on show and its richly varied engagement with the traditional visual language found in Al-Balad. One visitor commented that the work on display was the first time that he had seen works that were at the same time original and familiar.
The exhibition is open to the public throughout Ramadan and the summer. If you wish to visit the show please contact JHTA.