Culture Weekly

Beautifying Bahrain one piece at a time

May 31 - June 6, 2023
Gulf Weekly Beautifying Bahrain one piece at a time
Gulf Weekly Beautifying Bahrain one piece at a time
Gulf Weekly Beautifying Bahrain one piece at a time
Gulf Weekly Beautifying Bahrain one piece at a time
Gulf Weekly Beautifying Bahrain one piece at a time

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

A  CREATIVE collective that has been prettying up the kingdom with their marvellous mosaic installations has pieced together an exhibition aimed at engaging with the community as well as raising funds to continue its public art initiatives.

Art Reach Bahrain is a non-profit group made up of artists and designers beautifying Bahrain with their inspirational installations.

It all started with good friends and co-directors of the society, Lena Dajani and Rula Al Chorbachi, who wanted to make a difference in the country they call home…and for the past nine years, they have made that dream a reality with an array of colourful bus benches, mosaic murals at different centres and pretty planters to name a few.

“Community art projects connect people to places and create bonds and shared identities that can last a lifetime,” said Lena, a Palestinian-American artist and Art Reach Bahrain’s programme director. “Our community art collective is run entirely by volunteers and some of our members have been with us for years, forming a core team.

“We donate our time and experience to inspire the youth and members of the wider community to work together to create artistic installations throughout Bahrain.

“Some volunteers might join us as workshop participants creating beautiful and lasting pieces for a larger public art installation. While others create artworks that can be exhibited and sold by us to support our artistic initiatives and to help cover our operating costs.”

According to Lena, this exhibition, Oasis in the Desert staged on the second floor of Harbour Gate within the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) until June 8, is a fundraising event to aid their public art initiatives and their mission is to engage the wider community and create lasting landmarks.

“Our work has a social impact that is appreciated and felt by many,” said Lena “We hope that people will see the varied styles of art on show and be inspired to get involved either as a participant in our workshops or as a sponsor.”

The showcase was inaugurated by BFH chief executive officer Alex Craine.

“BFH has sponsored our studio space since 2016 under a CCR (corporate cultural responsibility) arrangement,” she added. “This partnership is a great example of the private sector supporting cultural and civil society initiatives.

“Also, as the organiser of this exhibition, I am truly grateful to the members of our group who worked so hard to create these beautiful mosaic artworks. Their designs are unique and reflect the special character of each artist. They have donated hours of their time and energy for this fund-raising event. We hope that visitors will appreciate our collective effort and support us by purchasing an artwork that will surely last a lifetime.”

Art lovers enjoyed the vibrantly-hued works that would make for excellent planters or decorative pieces in one’s home created by Art Reach Bahrain mosaic artists Katarina Kovacev, Beba Cvetana, Karine Hird, Lina Muhtadi, Najwa Ashehabi, Lena, Simonetta Pancaldi, Patsi Holcombe, Nour Saeed and Sally Shabaan.

Lena, who describes herself as a painter before being a mosaic artist, exhibited two pieces – a small wooden bench refurbished with ceramic tiles in the design of a kilim carpet and a stand-alone partition wall refurbished with ceramic tiles and inspired by yellow roses.

“As a painter, I am inspired by lush landscapes and nature,” she said. “However, in mosaics, I like to work more in the abstract. When I create mosaic art, I am focused more on the texture and colours of the tiles. So mosaic art has a very different creative process.”

A mosaic is a piece of art that is composed of many tiny pieces of coloured stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster or mortar, and covering a surface. From afar, the art glistens with an impressive array of colours and patterns. Up close, the intricacies involved are unveiled, and you can see how much time and effort must have gone into creating the artwork.

Serbian Katarina featured three panels and two small spheres. One panel is called Pomegranate and the other two are called Under the Sea, with all the motifs of the mosaic from her own drawings and ideas.

“What inspires me is life and mother nature,” said Katarina. “I find it enjoyable to play and create with colours and different mediums. We hope that through this exhibition we would be able to encourage more people to join us and discover that mosaic is fun, satisfying and a good channel to express oneself and creativity. It also creates objects that can last and visually enrich the environment.”

Lebanese Karine also exhibited two pieces – one panel inspired by a visit to Mauritius hence the tropical theme and her second piece is a decorative side table.

“My first piece has shades of green leaves and birds of paradise,” said Karine. “I used ceramic tiles and waterproof grout on plywood with a direct method. My second piece was challenging as it’s a decorative side table in a cube shape on wheels. I used tesserae tiles to create a geometrical symmetrical pattern inspired by a kilim design and waterproof grey grout with a dye to accentuate the colour.

“Antoni Gaudi’s art inspires me. His style is unique. Besides that, nature greenery, leaves mainly, shades of green what Bahrain needs, perhaps through mosaicking, imagine walls with vibrant colours filling the streets of Bahrain!”

She too hopes that more people will explore the world of mosaicking.

“We are lucky in Bahrain to have diverse backgrounds which can be inspiring to put into art and create something unique from broken tiles,” she added.

Meanwhile, Bahraini volunteer Sawsan Al Qattan said: “To me, each piece of mosaic represents a person’s unique culture, energy, opinions, and perspectives. And when it all comes together, it is simply a spectacular piece of art, and it so much greater than the sum of all the individual pieces.”

For details, follow

@artreachbahrain on Instagram.

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