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5 UAE-based Designers Part of the ’Collect’ Showcase in London

The 13th edition of Collect, a leading international art fair for contemporary objects, has returned to the Saatchi Gallery in London, and is hosting a dynamic showcase of some of the best museum-quality crafts and textiles by established and emerging artists from around the world, between 2 to 6 February. 

Three artworks inspired by the UAE’s rich handicrafts tradition, designed by talented UAE-based female designers are part of the Collect display, and have been made part of this prestigious international showcase as a result of the efforts of Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi), a subsidiary of the Sharjah-based NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah.

Irthi has been working to empower craftswomen by finding new markets and platforms for both traditional and contemporary crafts, in addition to reviving, preserving and modernising the rich cultural heritage of the region and engaging younger generations.

“The participation of the five UAE-based designers at the Collect exhibition represents the fruition of the efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Honorary Founder and Patron of Irthi, to support traditional handicrafts and preserve them for future generations. We are delighted to be able to bring this collection to the UK and in doing so, bringing the beauty of the UAE’s traditional regional crafts to new audiences with a modern twist,” said Reem BinKaram, Director NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.

“A main function of Irthi is to ensure that the region’s traditional crafts remain relevant in the modern era. These works of art represent the finest of the region’s heritage reimagined in a contemporary context. We look forward to being part of other international exhibitions and global arts initiatives, such as Collect, as they provide the perfect platform to showcase our nation’s rich heritage and keep our traditional crafts alive,” BinKaram added.

The first artwork in the collection is called ‘Sarood’, a reinterpretation of the traditional Emirati coloured mats made from braided palm hair, traditionally used for mealtime gatherings. Designed by Sheikha Hind bint Majid Al Qasimi, founder of ‘Designed by Hind’, Acting Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council, the floating ceramic light installation uses the Sarood weave structure as a cast for creating the ceramic Sarood used in the piece.

By using an alternative medium and incorporating lighting, the design has a new contemporary context that enables Emirati families to continue to incorporate their nomadic pastime practices in a modern setting.

The second piece on display, ‘Misnad’ by Emirati designer Aljoud Lootah, is a handwoven carpet that celebrates ‘Sadu’ weaving – a traditional Bedouin craft that employs vibrant colour, geometric patterns and motifs as decorative elements, and was seen on their tents and seating.

In the artwork, the carpet is attached to a black leather bench for two seating options; as a bench and as a ‘Misnad’ to rest against when sitting on the part of the carpet that is on the floor.

Lastly, ‘Constructed Feast’, developed by three designers from Tinkah, a multi-disciplinary design firm founded by UAE-based artists, draws inspiration from nomadic Bedouin dining experiences, and beautifully depicts their ceremony of eating.

The artwork, which is a collection, brings people together in a traditional manner, and also aims to celebrate the traditional natural materials and resources; such as sand, clay, pewter, textiles and leather, which are used to make the piece.

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