Abu Dhabi: Three Emirati artists, three French artists, one exhibition. The House of Artisans, managed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi in partnership with Institute Francais, has launched ‘Crafting Stories’, an exhibition that showcases the work made by the artists during their time in France and the UAE, as part of a cultural arts exchange programme, inspired by the theme of social gathering and art de vivre.
This creative arts programme supports aspiring designers and artisans from both the UAE and France whose work is focused on craftsmanship. The Emirati artists worked with French artists and craftsmen.
Launched in November of last year, the initiative aims to facilitate new French-Emirati dialogues, support a local network of artisans and create long-term exchanges and opportunities for professionals in the arts and crafts space.
Protecting traditional crafts
The programme features three Emirati artists and three French artists, who were chosen through a selection committee.
The residency exchange saw Emirati artists Alia Al Mazrooei, Mohamed Al Suwaidi, and Sarah Al Nuaimi spend a month in France, while their French counterparts Jeremy Plisson, Joseph Dhedin and Domitille Lusinchi spent their time in the UAE.
The programme is associated with leading institutions of excellence such as the National Institute of Arts and Crafts, Mobilier National and others.
It seeks to preserve and protect the artistic heritage represented by traditional handicrafts through building bridges between artists and craftsmen to share knowledge and experiences, and encourage young people to protect traditional crafts and cultural heritage.
The Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi plays a strategic role in building the cultural art scene, not only in the emirate, but in the region and beyond, through artistic and cultural initiatives.
Future editions of the arts exchange programme will see The House of Artisans engage creative practitioners from different countries around the world.
Alya Almazrouei said: “This ceramic piece combines the culture of cafes in France and the atmosphere of the traditional councils of the Emirates, as its presence in the community reflects the traditions and the Emirati ‘tekiya’ acts as a backrest in the council sessions, and it is covered in vibrant red with traditional motifs. Inspired by the social nature of the French café table.”
“This piece uses the curved shape of the traditional “tekiya”, streamlined with the distinctive shade of red. The curves of the bolster are emphasised by the space, indicating the natural fold and softness of the original takiya,” she added.
About the project, Alya said: “The joint experience between the UAE and France lasted for a month (November-2022)… We worked with French craftsmen who have extensive experience in the field of ceramics in the largest and most important factories in France.”
Door to new experience
He said about his experience in participating in the joint Emirati-French art exhibition: “The project consisted of spending a full month in the French capital, Paris, during which we made many visits and tours in many French institutions concerned with artistic matters, design, drawing, and craft arts.
“Among the requirements of these visits was the design of a piece that expresses the Emirates Majlis and the French Salon. The idea of designing a traditional wooden door was chosen because it reflects the Emirati Majlis and the French Salon together and reflects ancient historical stories dating back hundreds of years.
“Through this project, we used innovative new materials that are used for the first time. It is a resulting of the recycling of date kernels with a paste of shell flakes. The historical door that represents the Emirates Council and the French Salon was made.”