Ithra’s thoughts, Lego’s toys to the rescue in time of trouble - GulfToday

Ithra’s thoughts, Lego’s toys to the rescue in time of trouble

Lego 2

Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe as seen by Lego.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

As Covid-19 leaves an unprecedented mark on the world, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Saudi Arabia, has announced the launch of the COVID-19 Exhibit, a collection of thoughts, memories and reflections by people across the globe on their pandemic experience.

In this project, Ithra seeks examples of artworks from the public, including newly-made works of art or images of objects of particular importance - a pen, a photo of loved ones or relatives, a diary, a musical instrument, a book or a note from a family member. Thus a wide variety of submissions is being sought.

In 2021, objects selected by the museum’s curators from the online submissions will be on display at Ithra in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The submission page of the COVID-19 Exhibit is open at

The COVID-19 Exhibit begins as a virtual show highlighting objects that were particularly significant to members of the public during the pandemic. Launched on June 28, 2020, the COVID-19 Exhibit begins as a virtual show by highlighting objets d’art contributed by the public. It went live to the public this month.


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“While this is an unprecedented time, it is also an unprecedented moment of global solidarity”, notes Ithra’s Head of Museums, Laila Faddagh. “The COVID-19 Exhibit is an opportunity for the global community to tell our stories during this complicated and difficult time. “Art is about connecting people through culture – and culture is based on the exchange of ideas and identities – but we connect maybe even more easily through common objects. We can all understand the personal value of family photos, a special mug, a note from an important friend, a musical instrument, a favourite painting, your camera, the pen you use to write in your diary … just as we understand Charlie Brown’s friend Linus and his security blanket.

“The COVID-19 Exhibit is a platform where you can express yourself and explain your pandemic experience so you can connect with people around the world – and they can connect with you”.

lego 1  An objet d’art from Ithra exhibition titled Keystrokes.


She adds that “The COVID-19 Exhibit is intended to be a forum for creativity and self-expression for everyone. Ithra is in Saudi Arabia, but, as a leading centre for global culture, we want to include people from around the world. In the spirit of welcome, warmth and empathy – especially now during the pandemic – it is an opportunity to connect with everyone, from anywhere”.

The goals of the COVID-19 Exhibit include:

Offering a platform to share objects that are meaningful to people and their stories

Providing perspective on the effects of Covid-19 on ourselves and our relationships with objects

Connecting cultures and creating dialogue through international participation.

Encouraging self-expression and creativity

Fostering empathy and unity among people around the world.

The Lego Group has also launched a new canvas for creative expression alongside a series of much-loved partners, in Covid time. Designed for adults who pride themselves on their love of pop culture, four new Lego Art sets, give creative adults a new way to transform their passion into art.

Those who love Warhol or Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles or iconic characters from the Marvel Universe and Star Wars galaxy, can pay homage to their idols by creating their very own Lego artwork portrait to proudly display in their homes, offices or wherever they enjoy their music, film or art.

Louise Elizabeth Bontoft, Senior Design Director at the Lego Group, said: “We know adults are always trying to destress after a day at work, and we thought, what better way to help them switch off than by encouraging them to explore their favourite passion in a new creative way?

“With these wider ranging designs, we believe that we can inspire film fans, music lovers and art and design aficionados to immerse themselves in a world of art and creativity linked to their idols. Through this new experience, we believe adults can unwind, engage in a mindful building activity and ultimately create a beautiful piece of wall art that perfectly reflects their personality”.

Pop art admirers can now recreate Andy Warhol’s famous bright pink screenprint of Marilyn Monroe from 1967, or reimagine it in three different colours, using Lego tiles. Music lovers can bring Beatle-fandom into the home with a Lego portrait of their favourite band member, whether it’s John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison or Sir Ringo Starr. Each set can be used to create four unique portraits or collect four and display the full band side-by-side.

Celebrate iconic villains from a galaxy (Star Wars), far away with a 3-in-1 portrait set. Choose between portraits that pay tribute to the Sith, with Darth Vader, Darth Maul or Kylo Ren, or take the artwork to the next level by combining three sets into an ultimate Darth Vader wall piece.

Lego is a Danish toy production company best known for the manufacture of Lego-brand toys, consisting mostly of interlocking plastic bricks. The Lego Group has also built several amusement parks around the world, each known as Legoland.

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