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Posted On: 13 April 2016 09:55 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 01:55 pm

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani speaks of her dream for Qatar

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In a landmark international TV interview, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums (QM), spoke exclusively to CNN International on QM’s ambitions and focus for developing arts, heritage and creativity in Qatar.

The interview was a highlight of the launch episode of CNN Style, a new monthly 30 minute TV programme focused on topics including art, architecture and design, which launched on 9th April on CNN International.

During the feature, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa discussed a number of themes, including the importance of investing in culture, QM’s focus on nurturing emerging talent, bringing contemporary artists to Qatar and QM’s latest exhibition as part of the Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture: What About the Art? Contemporary Art from China. The exhibition, curated by renowned Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang features the works of 15 of China’s most significant contemporary artists and is currently on show at the QM Gallery, Al Riwaq until 16 July.

Commenting during the interview on turning Qatar into a “world class destination for culture”, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa said:

“I think for as long as I can remember, art has been part of our culture. It has always been part of our identity, whether it’s preserving heritage, archaeology, excavation and collecting all sorts of art.”

Launching the Fire Station ‘Artist in Residence’ initiative to nurture the talent of young Qatari artists and residents in Qatar.

During the interview, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa is credited with transforming Qatar’s old Civil Defence building into studio spaces for artists, known as the Fire Station ‘Artist in Residence’ initiative, which is part of QM’s strategy to nurture emerging talent and inspire an indigenous culture of creativity and innovation. The initiative, which began in September 2015, spans a period of nine months and offers studio space and mentoring and tutoring for 20 artists from a range of different disciplines, including art, photography, design and architecture. Qatar Museums created the Fire Station as an artist hub to support the local creative community to encourage an exchange between artists, and to perpetuate the budding landscape through local production and creativity.

Sheikha Al Mayassa added:

“We're trying to bring the best of the best from around the world or the most influential people to think in creative ways, because creative people come up with the best solutions to times of change.

We have invested a lot in education, and culture was the second thing we invested highly in.”

Bringing the world’s leading contemporary artists to Qatar.

On bringing some of the world's leading contemporary artists to Qatar including Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, and most recently, Cai Guo-Qiang, to inspire future generations of artistic talent and engage the local community, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa said:

“Most contemporary art is provocative. And a lot of people say for good art to be good, it should be provocative. We are very clear with the artists that you are free to decide on your exhibition, but you are not free to be insulting to our culture or traditions.”

Presenting a major exhibition curated by internationally acclaimed New York based Chinese artists Cai Guo-Qiang.

The interview also explored Cai Guo-Qiang’s ‘What About the Art? Contemporary Art from China’ exhibition. Following the huge success of his solo exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab, held at Mathaf in 2011, artist Cai Guo-Qiang has returned to Qatar, this time as a curator, to present this large scale exhibition featuring 15 contemporary Chinese artists and collectives born in Mainland China working in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation, video, performance, and interactive video game design. During the package, the breath and diversity of the work featured was highlighted, including the exhibition’s focus on artists’ individual creativity and their use of artistic language.

Commenting on QM’s longstanding relationship with Cai Guo-Qiang. H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa added:

“Cai is a very generous artist. When he came here for his Saraab exhibition in 2011, he was here for about two and a half months, working with students. He became so famous walking around the city that everyone would call him by his first name… bringing art from China is quite important for us given that the art scene there is growing very rapidly so it’s really an exchange of knowledge. We’re really excited to have something of this calibre.”

Art as a bridge between cultures that connects entities in Qatar and the world.

The interview ended with, H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa discussing the power of art and the effect it has on shaping culture and acting as a valuable bridge between cultures:

“Art is very powerful because it has no boundaries and you don’t need to belong to any country, or religion or social class. It brings people from all walks of life together to talk about an idea. There is no limit to it.”

The interview will be aired again on CNN International as part of CNN Style at the following times:

· Wednesday 13 April: 12.30 and 19.30;

· Saturday 16 April: 08.30 and 21.30

· Sunday 18 April: 15.30.

It can also be viewed here: