Culture Weekly

Every picture tells a story!

January 12 - January 18, 2022
Gulf Weekly Every picture tells a story!
Gulf Weekly Every picture tells a story!
Gulf Weekly Every picture tells a story!
Gulf Weekly Every picture tells a story!
Gulf Weekly Every picture tells a story!

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

Seven talented mixed-media artists are shining a spotlight on the kingdom’s rich heritage.

They have showcased an array of artistic installations at Bahrain International Airport’s departure terminal, giving travellers a cultural send-off.

The Mawall art showcase, curated by creatives Noor Alwan and Abdulla Buhijji, is an exhibition centred on the harmonious relationship between music, art and Bahraini heritage.

“The Bahrain Airport Company and Taa’ Al Shabab, who operate under the umbrella of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca), contacted us regarding several hoarding walls across the airport that they wanted to populate with art,” said Noor, 31, an artist and creative strategist.

A recipient of the Misk Art Grant in Riyadh for 2021, Noor also won the third place in the 45th Bahrain Annual Art Fair in 2019. She has also participated in several exhibitions in Cairo, Birmingham, Sharjah and Riyadh.

“We suggested that a better approach would be to curate an art exhibition with different pieces under a similar theme,” she said.

“We wanted to create a vibrant, fun and holistic journey for people to embark on while visiting the airport – to learn about Bahraini heritage and pay homage to a vast history of music and its influence on culture and art. That’s how we came up with the concept for Mawall.”

Mawall, in Arabic, is a traditional genre of vocal music that is usually presented before the actual song begins ... which is why each art piece placed across the airport is inspired by a folkloric Bahraini song.

“Each artwork translates a Bahraini song into a visual narrative, introducing visitors to stories that are not necessarily seen or heard while touring the country,” said Abdulla, a 28-year-old artist and creative consultant who is based in both Dubai and Bahrain. He previously headed Tashkeel’s art initiative under Baca’s umbrella and was the second place winner of the 45th Bahrain Annual Art Fair. He has also exhibited his works in Paris, Riyadh, Dubai, and Sharjah.

“Each artwork corresponds to a written piece about the song it expresses, and there is a QR code that directs people to the musical piece to experience them both aurally and visually.

“It is a way to emphasise how art can start a dialogue with different audiences and can resonate with people from all walks of life.

“We also wanted to highlight high-calibre Bahraini talent, which can go international and create art that is fresh, timeless, relevant and attractive.”

The artists involved, including the curators, are Dana Jumaan, Ishaq Madan, Maryam Jamal, Jaffar Al Haddad and Sahar Sadeq.

There are eight installations on display that experiment with different mediums such as photography, floral art, screen-printing, illustrations, percussions, woodwork and more.

Noor and Abdulla, who often collaborate in curating exhibitions, running cultural strategy programmes and creating art installations, featured three works of art entitled Seven nights, two nights and one, What(a)rainbow and Toab Toab Ya Bahar.

According to the dynamic duo, Toab Toab Ya Bahar is inspired by the song women sung on the shore to bid the men going to the sea farewell.

“It’s been said that the title of the song calls out for the sea to repent,” explained Noor, who has a Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Manchester. She later pursued her Master’s in Architecture from the University of Buffalo as a Fulbright scholar, specialising in inclusive design.

“Women, back in the day, gathered palm tree leaves and wood and used them to start a fire prior to singing the song to the sea. This song represents the strength of women, who attempt to threaten and scare the sea with fire to ensure their men return home safe. Hence, the installation we worked on shows a collection of palm tree leaves depicting them burning within a frozen moment of time within the song.”

Seven nights, two nights and one represents a song that countdowns the days for the newlywed bride to join her husband’s house. The art piece consists of 30 traditional Bahraini percussion instruments, called Tara, with the moon cycle painted on them.

“The art installation whimsically represents the song by combining the moon cycle, referencing the lunar calendar which is the traditional means of measuring time and days, superimposed on the celebratory ‘Tara’,” added Abdulla, who has a Master’s in product design from Brunel University London. His solo work is currently on display in Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival amongst international and regional artists.

What(a)rainbow is an art piece that symbolises the traditional rituals that celebrate new brides in jelwa celebrations, which is similar to an engagement party. This art piece is inspired by the traditional Bahraini song Whatrainbow that is sung in jelwas. Women sing it while waving pieces of colourful cloth upon the bride’s head. It is representative of the colours eventually merging into white.

Meanwhile, artist Sahar’s piece is called Maryam.

“My artwork aims to portray a Bahraini woman to be as powerful as waves, enduring the hardships of life, like metal grid, through acceptance, adaption and strength, to represent her in society throughout many generations,” said Sahar. A 37-year-old head florist and owner of a flower shop, Sahar is also the owner and art director of an ad agency in Bahrain. “The representation of the sea is also essential to highlight the voyages frequently occurring. Bahraini women often stood at the shore with hope, willing to wait and endure. Maryam is a Bahraini woman.”

Dana’s artwork is called Hiya Biya, Ishaq’s is Rhythm of Al-Fijiri, Maryam’s piece is called Ya Haif and Jaffar’s work is entitled The Calling of the Unessen.

“It has been a great experience conceiving this project and it has been amazing working with such a group of incredible Bahraini talent,” said Noor. “We look forward to working with more entities and organisations to bring art closer to the public to instigate a creative dialogue.”

Visit to find out more about the artists achievements and their artworks.

For details, follow @jaffar_alhaddad, @abdullabuhijji, @noornalwan, @ishaqmadan, @maryamjamals, @__starboy84 and @danajpaints on Instagram.

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