Culture Weekly

Colours of life

April 7- April 13, 2021
Gulf Weekly Colours of life

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

April is Autism Awareness month and young Othmann El Attar aims to draw attention to it through his artwork.

The 25-year-old who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three is visiting different destinations in the kingdom to shine a light on the disorder and show his support through his works of art.

Dr Sarah Clarke, the founder of Baloo’s Reading Buddies, and Othmann’s mum Christine Gordon, the co-founder of RIA Institute Bahrain, an inclusive education centre that caters to the needs of students with special needs, came up with the creative concept.

“Othmann adores drawing and is in his element with a pencil,” said Sarah, a family friend who has helped stage several autism awareness initiatives.

She discovered that Othmaan has an incredible gift for ‘up-scaling’ and interpreting small images and turn them into huge works of art, sometimes several metres high.

“It always amazes me.  He sees colours and shapes in a unique way and draws with such freedom – no judgment at all - it’s a joy to watch. This gives us a way to communicate with him and for him to express himself.

“Yes, he has Autism Spectrum Disorder which means many aspects of his life are a challenge, yet he has much to teach us about life.

“We aim to break down barriers to inclusion and showcase Othmann’s unique ability.”

Autism Spectrum Disorder includes a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. Each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. 

Othmann, who was more than happy to put his pencils, pens and crayons to the task, will start his creative challenge today at Bahrain Bay Park alongside Nepalese author, artist and mountaineer Madhu Sarda.

“Ever since I have come to this island I have been associated with Art for Autism and the RIA Institute,” said Madhu.

“This is the sixth year that we are raising awareness for autism through art. Othmann is a very good artist. I have seen him look at a picture and recreate it ... or draw something inspired by it. Very few people I have met have this sense of observation or ability to grasp the details. I am looking forward to drawing with him.”

In previous years, Othmann has painted large artworks of Harbour Gate, the Bahrain International Circuit and the World Trade Centre. 

“We expect him to draw the buildings at each location,” said Sarah.

“But who knows? As with all artists, it depends on what he finds inspiring, and if he wants to draw at all!

He has a very unique eye so we are excited to see what he comes up with.”

Othmann is also planning on visiting the National Theatre of Bahrain and Bahrain National Museum, the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, the Pearling Path and Adliya’s Block 338. 

“We hope more artists join him – either virtually (from the comfort of their own home anywhere in the world as we can link them in on Instagram Live) or in person in Bahrain. 

“They are free to use any media and draw what they want; how the location inspires them, something linked to autism and inclusion, or even a portrait of Othmann drawing!”

WhatsApp Sarah on 38338064 to set a time in April to draw with Othmann or draw along with him when they go live by hashtagging #drawwithothmann.
Follow @baloosbuddies and @RIAcenter on Instagram for updates.

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