Under the visionary guidance of Qatar Museums Chairperson H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums (QM) officially launched today the new Fire Station building and Artists in Residence programme, as well as the inaugurational “555” exhibition.
Since 2012, Qatar Museums’ team has been working on renovating the old Civil Defence Building (commonly known as the old Fire Station), in preparation for hosting the new “Artist in Residence” programme. To honour the heritage and traditions of the past while embracing the future, Qatar Museums was keen to preserve the original façade and recycle many of the features, allowing the original integrity of the building to remain intact.
H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani,Chairperson of Qatar Museums, Said:
“Arts, creativity and heritage plays a vital role in the development of our country, supporting the pillars of our national vision. Today’s opening of the Fire Station marks an important milestone towards this, highlighting just how much the art community is flourishing as well as providing the ideal support to the next generation of cultural producers. As a hub for creative exchange, the Fire Station will help inspire an indigenous culture of creativity and innovation in Qatar. I’m incredibly proud of what’s been achieved by the team to date, and excited to see what comes next.”
The “Artist in Residence” programme which is scheduled to commence in September 2015, will span a period of nine months and initially include 20 artists from a range of different disciplines, including art, photography, design, architecture and other fields. The residency programme will first be open to local Qatari artists and residents of Qatar and at a later stage to regional artists.
Commenting on the launch, Hala Al Khalifa, Director of the Fire Station, Said:
“It’s a great pleasure to witness the opening of the new Fire Station building today. This building has served the community very well in the past thirty years and will now continue to do so in a different context. The Artist in Residence programme perfectly reflects Qatar Museum’s vision of enriching the lives of all those who live in and visit Qatar. Through this residency programme, we hope to nurture and support a vibrant local art scene and give young and emerging artists a shared space to experiment, create, grow, and flourish. Historically, the purpose of the building was to help extinguish fires, now it is to nurture creative sparks”.
In parallel with the launch of the Fire Station, the 555 exhibition was officially launched in homage to “The Art Centre”, the very first artist in residence initiative that took place in Doha in the early 1990’s and which ran for a decade. Curated by HE Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani, the 555 exhibition aims to showcase a pivotal era in the development of arts not only in Qatar, but the region as a whole.
“Our measure of success as a residency is to see how the young artists we support will be able to “fly away into the world” and to be continuously creative. At the end of their nine months, we hope they will have developed and honed their artistic identity and voice and that we will be able to introduce them to a range of opportunities, contacts and openings to enable them to manage their art, get themselves noticed and help cultivate a career” added Al Khalifa.
Perfectly equipped to host the 20 artists selected to join the Fire Station, the building is home to 24 studios and a gallery space for exhibitions and community interaction. Twenty studios will be open to those artists selected to join the residency, whilst four will be reserved for visiting artists. The Fire Station premises will also feature public attractions such as a park, library, an arts and crafts shop, a cinema, a plaza, a restaurant to foster an interactive environment and engage the local community.
The residency programme will also offer the 20 artists weekly mentoring programmes, and access to QM Museums, special exhibitions, lectures as well as access to QM’s experienced museum curators.
The Doha Fire Station was built in 1982 as a Civil Defence building. The building was occupied by the fire brigade until late 2012 when the building was handed over to Qatar Museums for preservation and conservation and to sensitively recycle elements of the original architecture.
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