Dubai Culture hosts artist Simar Halawani as part of Artist in Residence programme

Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) announced the hosting of Lebanese artist Simar Halawani at Al Safa Art and Design Library as part of the Artist in Residence programme. This comes within the framework of the Authority’s efforts to establish an incubating environment that would ensure the care and encouragement of creative artistic talents in Dubai and provide them with an integrated model and platform to deepen their practical experiences as well as motivate them to create new works of art and activating bridges of communication between artists and society members and the cultural and artistic scene in the emirate, shedding light on local culture and heritage.

Within the framework of the programme, Dubai Culture allocated a workshop space for Simar Halawani, who obtained a cultural visa, at Al Safa Art and Design Library, starting from 1 July and for a period of six months. Halawani specialises in visual arts, and she will work on a project titled ‘Change and Transformation,’ which deals with people’s relationship with the sea in terms of migration and mobility, transformation and adaptation, and change. The artist will be producing 35 paintings that will culminate in the organising of an exhibition in the library that would highlight the product of her creativity and continue for a period ranging from four to six months.

The artist will also present weekly interactive workshops for students about the title of the exhibition for an hour and a half, motivating them to read and analyse visual arts, study the paintings, and work on redrawing and colouring them. She will also include a number of students in training sessions through which they would learn about the types of visual arts, especially drawing and engraving, to later draw their own paintings so that they may express their interaction with the geographical space to which they belong. The training sessions will conclude with the presentation of their works in the exhibition to motivate the youth to understand and develop their artistic abilities. These drawings will be evaluated, and the best ones will be selected to be displayed in a dedicated corner within one of the galleries to motivate talents and encourage them to engage in the artistic field.

Eiman Al Hammadi, Acting Manager of Libraries Affairs Section at Dubai Culture, commented: “Dubai is a city rich in its inspiring cultural heritage and prestigious international cultural standing. Through the Artist in Residence programme, we offer artists from around the world a valuable opportunity to interact with the emirate’s rich cultural and artistic scene, deepen their understanding of local heritage and values, and draw inspiration from them in their work by investing in the cultural assets that we invest in. Al Safa Art and Design Library was selected because it specialises in creative fields and includes large spaces that allow artists to carry out paintings of multiple sizes and organise workshops with students.”

Al Hammadi added: “The programme is also part of our efforts to support Emirati and resident artists, highlight and encourage their talents, and enhance opportunities for exchange between artists and the local community by making culture available everywhere and to everyone, while stimulating the active participation of all society members, which contributes to strengthening Dubai’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent as well as achieving the objectives of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy.”

About her project, artist Simar Halawani, said: “I am interested in the social impact of the project, and I will organise workshops and training sessions to raise awareness and educate students about the impact of visual art and interaction with geographical space as well as about the importance of arts in daily life. I will also give part of the proceeds of the project to a charitable organisation in the emirate.”

Halawani added: “I would like to conduct an exhibition of visual paintings on the relationship of man with the element of water, specifically the sea, under the title ‘Change and Transformation.’ I found it necessary to return to the depth of the sea and its marine creatures through my paintings to explore the existential relationship between man and water. What struck me during my stay in the UAE is that this relationship has continued despite the urban development that has taken place in an innate and spontaneous manner. Additionally, the language of water has remained alive; a language that constantly simulates my childhood passion for the sea, which I carried with me from my country, Lebanon.”

Halawani is an artist specialising in the field of drawing and engraving. She holds a master’s degree in illustration from Italy and works as a freelance illustrator for children’s books with many well-known authors in Lebanon and the Middle East. She won the Best Book Award from the Arab Thought Foundation 21 for her book ‘The Elephant Painter’ (the book is only available in Arabic) in 2017, in addition to the Best Drawing Award from the International Board on Books for Young People in Italy in 2016 for the book ‘A Fish I Dreamed of’ (the book is only available in Arabic) by Academia.

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