Organised under the aegis of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the festival with the theme, ‘Celebrating Art, Celebrating Growth’, began yesterday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Art lovers can treat themselves to an incredible journey into the past, present and future at the tenth edition of the Sikka Art Festival, flagship of the Dubai art Season 2022, which is running at the historical Al Fahidi neighbourhood till March 24.

Organised under the aegis of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the festival with the theme, ‘Celebrating Art, Celebrating Growth’, began yesterday after Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, inaugurated the show.

The festival with more than 250 multinational artists participating in person and virtually, opened to a huge crowd of art enthusiasts. It symbolised a reaffirmation of life, vitality and culture and the indefatigable human spirit that persevered for its survival in defiance of the challenges of the pandemic for the last two years.

An explosion of art, colour, music

The quaint bylanes and alleyways of the neighbourhood with homes that have traditional Barjeel ventilation system gives Al Fahidi its unique architectural character and signature. The entire neighbourhood came alive with lights, music, art installations and was thronged by people from all over UAE.

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The festival, with more than 250 multinational artists participating in person and virtually, opened to a huge crowd of art enthusiasts. Image Credit: Supplied

One of the highlights of the festival is the Metaverse Digital museum in the New Media House, No 25. It introduces art lovers to more than 100 larger-than-life digital installations and unique perceptions through Virtual Reality (lenses). There is a digital world where art lovers can explore the possibility of trading in digital art with Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) — شa testament to Dubai’s emphasis on all things futuristic.

The streets and traditional homes of Al Fahidi neighbourhood bear a festive look, lined with multimedia art installations and sculptures by participating artists, depicting their unique sensibilities. Many of the participating artists provided a glimpse into their creative journeys.

A fulfilling experience

Meet Alexa Javero, 24, from Philippines, participating in the exhibition for the first time, is depicting her art works in House No 3, Room No 1. Javero elaborated on her textile, black-thread, pillow and fabric stuffing creations. “My artworks are about language of embroidery and the nature of dreaming and how cryptic and mysterious,” Javero said.

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Alexa Javero from Philippines is participating in the exhibition for the first time. Image Credit: Supplied

Emirati-American artist Nisar Ahli, a first-time participant at the festival, is presenting her public sculpture, Stacked Balloons, which is a vibrant creation of carbon fibres. Explaining her sculpture, Ahli said: “This is a unique experiment in Performative Intervention between body and space. The vibrant carbon fibre balloon sculpture is placed in a narrow pathway. As people walk past the edge of the wall and the sculpture, they can experience this performative intervention. There is a sense of freedom and a sense of control.”

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Al Fahidi neighbourhood bears a festive look, lined with multimedia art installations and sculptures. Image Credit: Supplied

Indian artist Rubira presenting her art for the second time at the Sikka Art Fair expressed her excitement at returning to the art fair. “This new series of artworks that I have specially created for the fair has an underlying theme of home, family and belonging. The whole idea is inspired by the idea of having a home that feels complete when people visit it.”

Emirati analog photographer Ammar Al Banna captures cameos from contemporary life-style. However, these are developed in a retro process. Al Banna, 23, experiments with old technique, while capturing modern events. “It’s a mix of both and my work depicts his unique juxtaposition of the modern with old-style photo printing and I am displaying my work in House No 31,” said Al Banna.

Visitors express delight

Visitors were fascinated with the stimulating ethos. Obeid from Sharjah expressed his delight. Speaking to Gulf News, he commented: “I am so fascinated by the Metaverse digital art installations. Everything about this art exhibition is inspiring the younger generation to be aware of its heritage and be creative. It has been such a pleasure and I am going to come as much as possible here to enjoy the experience.”

Jennifer Cardozo, a visitor from India, said: “I missed coming to Dubai during the last two years and was waiting eagerly to be here during the art festival. Sure enough, the experience is so satisfying that I am going to be here every single day.”

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Visitors are fascinated by the stimulating ethos showcased in the exhibition. Image Credit: Supplied

Sidra Tree, the central theme

Commenting on the successful inauguration, Syed Al Kharbash, CEO of Art and Design at Dubai Art and Culture, said the festival, running for ten days, was featuring a series of unique creative events and activities that provide a space for Emirati, Gulf Cooperation Council and other international artists to showcase their art and design installations.

“This year, the icon of Emirati heritage is the Sidra Tree. This tree is a symbol of the resilience of our heritage an culture. It has strong and deep roots and yields leaves, fruit and flowers that are medicinal. It survives well, despite the harsh arid climate, which symbolises the strong roots and strength of Emirati heritage and civilisation. This year, we have added a couple of new houses to the neighbourhood. The highlight is the New Media House that displays more than 100 artworks in the Metaverse and NFT house that looks at several digital artworks, the jewellery house that traces the evolution of jewellery design in the UAE over the years. We recommend that UAE residents celebrate the cause of art and visit the Sikka Art Fair for an enriching experience.”

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Some of the art works at the festival. Image Credit: Supplied

Sikka Art Festival 2022

What: A visual and performing arts festival organised by Dubai Culture and Arts authority, under the umbrella of #DubaiArtSeason

Duration: From March 15-24

Where: Al Fahidi Neighbourhood, Bastakiya District, Bur Dubai

Main Theme: Celebrating Art, Celebrating Growth

What to expect: Over 250 UAE, GCC, Regional artists to display their art in different media such as murals, sculptures, embroideries, paintings across the Al Fahidi neighbourhood and art galleries

Timing: 6-11pm

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Highlights: 60 workshops to be held, curated by Art Dubai, covering visual art, design and new media.

• The series of visual arts workshops include various types of artworks, most notably making models using cardboard, drawing, soap-making, Islamic decorations, natural dyes, collage, pottery, origami and colouring. The design workshops include drawing as well as digital and video collages, in addition to typographical methods, 3D digital design, animation, digital jewellery design and Arabic letter design.

• New media: The workshop programme also keeps pace with contemporary media techniques used in the design and production of artworks. It includes sessions on augmented reality in art, design in virtual reality, artistic NFTs, creative coding, Sisyphus robot shaping, video composing, visual music creation and interactive media software.

• Children’s workshops: The festival also hosts a set of workshops for children to help them explore the worlds of doll manufacturing, pottery, and the making of Emirati paper dolls among other things. In addition to this, skills relating to designing and preserving animal shapes, making animal shapes using origami, drawing and colouring, designing Arabic letter stickers, designing and building robots and drawing in virtual reality will also be taught.

• Two workshops organised by Zoho, on March 22 and 24, from 8.30-9.30pm and 7-8pm on digital service consultation for creative entrepreneurs.

• Two workshops by LinkedIn: On March 20, from 7.30pm-8.30pm and on March 23, from 6.30pm-7.30pm, to show the importance of staying connected for independent creative freelancers and how it can help them grow their businesses and empower them.