Abu Dhabi: Artists from around the world participated in a discussion recently about public art, its relevance and history. The event was organised by the Abu Dhabi International Sculpture Symposium (Adiss) and held at Zayed University.

"There is no great city without great public art and Abu Dhabi is currently going through an exciting time with all the recent art-related events. As we know all great things start small and grow over time," Rex Taylor, Assistant Provost, Zayed University, said.

According to Caroline Ramersdorfer and Billy Lee, who are from Austria and the UK respectively, public art can be traced back to ancient times and over the years is a method that provides greater access to art for the public.

"Public art is not a new concept. Recently site specific art emerged in the 1950s and in the 20th century public art became a form of propaganda, especially in countries such as Russia and China. In the 21st century, technology has become integrated into many areas of art," Lee said.

While in the UAE there have been many recent art-related events, according to Ehab Al Labban, a sculptor from Egypt, not enough is being done to help raise awareness and art appreciation in the Middle East.


"It's great that I am able to sculpt in another Arab country. Unfortunately, there isn't much appreciation for art in the Middle East because it is regarded as something luxurious here, compared to the West. Also, art and architecture have become so global. Right now, even though I am in Abu Dhabi, I don't feel as though I am doing something exceptional. I feel as though I am in Europe."

Hassab Sharif, an artist based in the UAE, noted that public art has taken various forms in Abu Dhabi, whether as sculptures located at various places in the city, through exhibitions or several initiatives.

"Such sculpture symposiums are great ways to help us to document all we've done as artists. I've been creating sculptures for over 20 years in the UAE and have placed them in many public areas throughout the emirates, along with other artists.

"Recently, young artists such as Ebtisam Abdul Aziz have taken public art to a different level through their work, which helps to bring art awareness to the public."