Artworks on the wall at Sikka.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
The Sikka Art and Design Festival, which is held under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Culture and Arts Authority in Dubai (Dubai Culture) and member of Dubai Council, in its eleventh edition, chalked up a number of new achievements and statistics that indicate the vitality of Dubai’s creative scene.
Dubai Culture has revealed that this year, Sikka attracted more than 120,000 visitors, who came to see the work of 200+ creatives.
Their output decorated the rooms and walls of the houses of Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood in the course of ten days, and went hand in hand with dozens of workshops, talks, entertainment and musical performances.
Noor Khalfan Alroumi, project manager of Sikka Art and Design Festival, said that “Sikka Art and Design has succeeded in becoming an essential part of the growing local cultural and artistic scene.”
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Artists presented 500+ works of art to visitors, distributed in six arenas and fourteen houses. The event hosted nine outdoor installations.
Their presence reinforced the strength of the Dubai Public Art strategy aimed at transforming Dubai into an outdoor art museum. The artwork ‘Threads of Time: Weaving’ presented by Hamda Al Falahi and Reema Al Mheiri, drew attention, as well as the works of the French Alexy Goguet and Emirati artists Jassim Al Awadhi and Rawdha Al Ketbi.
Sikka displayed six murals inspired by the spirit of Dubai and its ancient heritage, including ‘My Dubai’ by Abdullah Lutfi, ‘The Future is Here’ by Badr Abbas, and ‘Ya labes el Tally’ by Emirati artist Fatima Al Ali.
‘Talli House’ represented a new addition, as it rejoiced at the UAE’s success in registering the Talli craft on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage items. It included among its walls, innovative works bearing the fingerprints of five Emirati practitioners.
They were inspired by Talli threads, while the group exhibition organised by Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children in the ‘Bait Al Khazaf’, gave visitors the opportunity to explore masterpieces of ceramics and clay, through a variety of sculptures presented by 35 artists.
This year, the festival launched ‘Sikka Talks’, which consisted of 14 diverse discussions, where artists and experts shed light on the local cultural scene and trends in the global arts sector. The interactive programme witnessed the presentation of more than 136 adult workshops, which attracted 600 visitors, while ‘Little Sikka’ programme included 100 workshops that brought the participation of over 1,500 children.
Al Jalila Cultural Center for Children had 28 workshops for children, supervised by specialists. The festival witnessed the participation of 13 tenants who took the houses of the historic neighbourhood as their headquarters.
Emirati artist Fatmah Lootah presented her exhibition ‘Earth’ at her gallery in House 35, while Majlis Gallery, located in House 52, offered ‘Quietude: A Solo Exhibition’ of British artist Matt Ryder’s Landscapes and Florals, which drew inspiration from surrounding desert landscapes, in addition to a water colour workshop by British artist, Trevor Waugh. Bait Alkhanyar Museum taught the history of the Emirati dagger, its designs and methods of use. The Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) occupied House 47 and brought forth artist displays such as Estikana Cafe, the UAE/Japan Enka workshop on the aesthetics of Emirati and Japanese cultures.
House 40 opened its doors to Ecuadorian abstract artist Ana Liz Cordero. She turned it into a private studio, where she displayed on the value of restoring nature. In House 27, Atelier Art and Sculpture, founded by Egyptian artist and sculptor Amr Aziz, highlighted the art of sculpture and its role in life.
Akaas Visual Arts opened the doors of its centre in House 17 to visitors to explore the creations of several Emirati artists, including Rashid AlMulla, who presented his works ‘Counting Stars’, ‘Ocean Protector’ and ‘Don’t Be Fooled’; Marwa Alhosani who presented the multimedia interactive piece ‘Challenge Yourself’; Jassim Al Awadhi’s two sculptures, ‘The Shadow’ and ‘The Circle’; and Faisal Al Rais, who had an interactive multimedia piece titled ‘People from the Neighbourhood’, in which he described his journey amidst the people living on the banks of Dubai Creek.
XVA gallery, which specialises in contemporary art from the Arab world, Iran and the Indian subcontinent, presented ‘Enheduanna’s Letter’, a solo installation by Halim Al Karim, that included portraits of sentimental letters hidden in history, and ‘Witnessing Us’, a solo exhibition by Solimar Miller, in which he reflected on the way humans interact with nature through the past, present and future.
Tashkeel transformed the rooms of House 10 into artistic spaces and introduced visitors to the works of artists including Abdulla Lutfi, Asma Baker, Natalya Konforti, Anja Bamberg, Lia Staehlin, Mike Arnold, Victor Sitali, besides others.
Al Fahidi Arts and Culture Center offered the Al Fahidi Joint Bazaar exhibition, in addition to an installation by Emirati artist Capt.X. Under the roof of House 8 in the Architectural Heritage Society, a group of Emirati urban heritage experts presented workshops.
Dubai Culture opened the doors of Houses 16, 31 and 38 for Emirati artists of different disciplines to show their work. Over 100 students from the College of Arts and Creative Enterprise at Zayed University also presented their works.
There were multiple musical and entertainment performances, cinematic and poetry evenings hosted by House 45. Volunteers too made their contributions, with Fatima Al Helo, leading the team.
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