Baton-waving ‘conductor’ directs visitors at Sharjah book fair - GulfToday

Baton-waving ‘conductor’ directs visitors at Sharjah book fair


The antics of the 'Event Commander' delight crowds at the Sharjah book fair.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Surging visitor traffic at the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair at Expo Centre Sharjah has prompted an ‘orchestra conductor’ to step in and direct the smooth flow of visitors at the fair’s halls and pavilions.

Dressed in a bright ensemble, the ‘Event Commander’ from Netherlands-based TukkersConnexion, appeared to have fled from her orchestra group as she roamed the SIBF 2021 venue, directing visitors to turn left, right or move forward with a blow of her whistle. Her comic movements and baton waving antics delighted the crowds at SIBF 2021, evoking laughter and joy amongst both young and old visitors, who lined up to click selfies with the artist.


For the first time in the history of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), aspiring illustrators, designers and art directors have an opportunity to benefit from a series of free workshops and panel sessions as part of a dedicated Illustration Survival Corner.


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With multiple sessions lined up every day throughout the 11-day book fair organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) in Expo Centre Sharjah, participants have been presented with the perfect opportunity to interact with and learn from global experts, said Cathy Olmedillas, who attended a masterclass by Italian design expert Giacomo Benelli titled ‘Professional Relations: The Illustrator’s Job’.

“This was helpful and practical. You are never really done with being an expert and there’s always something new you pick up at sessions like these,” said Olmedillas, who has been self-publishing children’s books for over 15 years from her base in London.


Benelli said these workshops become an absolute must-attend for anyone in the same industry because they will help “upgrade their skills, acquire knowledge about image design and creativity tools, and learn from global experts."

“Be problem solvers and solution seekers,” Benelli said was his ‘simple message’ for those who attended his masterclass. He is set to deliver one more masterclass with Ivan Canu, the author of The Illustrated Survival Guide on the penultimate day of the festival on Friday, November 12. as part of the Illustrators Survival Corner.

Developed in collaboration with Bologna Children's Book Fair where Sharjah is participating as Guest of Honour in 2022, this unique project is curated by Benelli’s Milan-based, Mimaster Illustrazione, a leading international educator on the illustration scene.

The focus of the corner will be on imparting professional development training through three daily activities comprising workshops, masterclasses and portfolio reviews, which will address a common theme each day, said Simar Halwany, a UAE-based artist, illustrator and self-publishing author. “It’s about passion and involvement – the two ingredients of being successful in this industry, especially as a freelancer. But that’s not alone. You need to know certain tricks of the trade,” said Halwany, who is all set to deliver one last masterclass on reviewing portfolios on the final day of SIBF on Saturday, November 13.

Throughout the festival, four portfolios are being reviewed each day. Participants can present their works to a panel of publishers, illustrators, and art directors, and receive constructive feedback and suggestions. In addition, one workshop, with maximum capacity of 20, and two masterclasses on a specific theme are being held daily throughout the festival.


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