Traditional Islamic arts and crafts were the focus of attention at educational institutions across Abu Dhabi recently through a series of workshops organised by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF). The initiative, which was the first of its kind held in the Gulf region, highlighted the richness of these traditional practices, encouraging creativity, spreading knowledge and establishing building blocks to inspire future Emirati artists.
The workshops provided a platform for young students to reconnect with an important part of their cultural heritage. They were organised in cooperation with the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, founded by HRH The Prince of Wales and the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).
Facilitators from the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in the UK worked with 260 students over a period of two weeks to explore geometric designs and patterns from nature applied to traditional Islamic Art. The workshops were held under two general themes: “Introduction to Traditional Islamic Design” and “Patterns from Abu Dhabi”. They were organised as part of ADMAF’s comprehensive educational programme, which seeks to provide young national talent with the tools to realize their potential in the fields of arts and culture.
Students from the Applied Media and Graphic Design Programmes of the Higher Colleges of Technology- Women’s College in Abu Dhabi and the Graphic Design and Web Design Programmes of Zayed University participated in the first workshops, which provided guidance on construction methods for geometric patterns and biomorphic motifs, both of which have traditionally governed all aspects of Islamic art. After exploring the close relationship between nature and Islamic art, the students created the design for a prayer rug or a Mihrab, inspired by natural environment of Abu Dhabi.
The “Patterns from Abu Dhabi” workshops introduced students from the Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Girls, the British School- Al Khubairat and the Al Shohub School for Girls to simple geometric designs found in the mud forts of Abu Dhabi and their connection to the order of nature. The students studied symmetry and pattern in nature and were given an opportunity to create their own design using activities suited to various ages and abilities including stencilling, printing, painting and drawing.
Mrs. Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, said, “Islamic arts heritage is one of our most valuable treasures and could be lost if serious effort is not put into passing it onto the new generation. The traditional arts and crafts workshops we organised and supported in Abu Dhabi aimed to ensure that this important part of our culture is preserved. These workshops add another dimension to ADMAF’s educational activities, which seek to not only spread knowledge on modern art but also to revive Islamic arts and inspire new talent for the future.”
The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts was founded in 2004 by HRH The Prince of Wales as one of his core charities. It specializes in teaching, researching and promoting creativity, practice and theory of the arts and crafts of the world’s great traditions.
The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and the advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision. Established in 1996 by Her Excellency Mrs Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, ADMAF is a not-for-profit organisation under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
ADMAF’s broad programme of initiatives and events - including the Abu Dhabi Festival and the International Comic Strip & Cartoon Art Festival among many others - brings together audiences of all ages and nationalities. Through its educational and community programs, it nurtures the creative talent of the UAE and beyond, in partnership with leading national and international institutions.