Qatari artists showcase works at London show

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London Arabia Art & Fashion Week opened earlier this week with a glamorous evening reception. The three-day event celebrates art, fashion and literature from across the Middle East. The art exhibition was curated by Qatari artist Amal al-Aathem.
Event organiser Omar Bdour said he was proud to showcase Arab culture and heritage alongside British creatives and to convey a message of love, unity and hope. He said such inter-cultural dialogue through proactive engagement is imperative to break down barriers. Guest speaker Lord Purvis of Tweed, a Member of the House of Lords who represented the Scottish School of Fashion and Textiles for a decade, addressed the guests. He said: “I have made 20 visits to the Mena region this year, including areas afflicted by great tension and conflict. I have seen the best and worst of humanity. Tonight we are celebrating the best of humanity through art, design and literature.” 
Key event supporter Professor Aldwyn Cooper, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Regent’s University London, in his address to the guests said: “This is a cultural event that makes a real difference.”
Upon arriving at the launch at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge, guests first had a chance to enjoy the art collection featuring work by the Saudi abstract artist Princess Lamia Mohammad Alsabhan, Qatari artists Amal al-Aathem, Ali Hassan and Ahmad Almusaifri, Alia al-Farsi from Oman, May Alsaad from Kuwait, Tariq Saeed from Bahrain, Jehad al-Ameri from Jordan and British sculptor Mark Coreth.
Art Curator Amal al-Aathem whose beautiful paintings juxtaposing the face of a woman with images of the moon are on show spoke to Gulf Times about her participation. “This is a very important opportunity to reflect our Arab culture. As artists we want to demonstrate our love of peace – not conflict. We are contemporary artists with our own distinct identities with traditional roots. As artists we are not political – we respect our land, our culture and religion.”
Qatari Ahmad Almusaifri, who was exhibiting for the first time at London Arabia, had two striking artworks showing the hardship and pressures faced by women today. The first was the anguished face of a woman representing the thousands of women caught up in the wars that are ravaging the Middle East region. “I wondered how these women must feel in these terrible conditions,” he said. 
The second image conveyed a sense of the pressures felt by women everywhere – the pressures of striving to find a place in a competitive, often male dominated world. 
The work of Doha born artist Ali Hassan also drew the eye. His ‘Village of the Poets’’ paintings are striking for their beautiful, delicate use of colour and pattern. Alia al-Farsi spoke about her painting, ‘What we Possessed for a While.’ It depicts a woman turned away from a man whose face shows his despair at losing her. Another of her works, ‘Bird on the Tree of Hope’, shows a young couple at the beginning of their relationship – full of promise.  
Asked about her participation in the event, she said: “London is a very important city to all artists.”  
At the art exhibition, Gulf Times caught up with Qatar Charity UK deputy director general, Fadi Itani. He commented: “This event shows the beautiful face and diversity of the Arab world. It helps to change the stereotyping about us and shows our rich culture.”
The fashion show featured the designs of Moroccans Albert Oiknine and Safae Ibrahimi, Hanan Heidari from Tunisia and Corrie Nielsen from UK.
Safae Ibrahimi of label de Mode, whose ‘Princess of Arabia’ gowns shimmered with beautiful beading, floral motifs and exquisite embroidery, said: “I use a lot of traditional details in my kaftans but they have a modern touch.”
London Arabia which is in its second year has expanded to include a book fair. Best-selling Algerian author Ahlam Mosteghanemi was on hand for a book signing alongside Lebanese author, journalist and human rights activist Joumana Haddad, Syrian novelist Ghalia Kabbani and Palestinian novelist Huzama Habayeb. (Source)