By Doha Ghouth
JEDDAH - The chief executive officer of the Red Sea Mall, Mohamed Alawi, Wednesday launched a gallery featuring some magnificent works of painting by young Saudi women, at the Andalusia area near the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah.
The 10-day event is supported by the artist Fatimah Ba Azeem’s talent support group Affect and Be Affected along with Shadda Gallery.
Ba Azeem’s continuous support of new talents has been particularly notable. “I do it out of my passion for the growth of budding artists,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do much on my own and I hope these promising talents would eventually gain the kind of recognition that I have today.”
Mernan Behairy and Ameerah Al-Shiekh, two talented young women have put up 44 paintings in the gallery depicting the story of 11-year-old Elias who goes on an adventure in search of his grandfather’s treasure, while his grandfather happens to be the folk character Aladdin. The gallery takes the visitors through the story with subtitles as in storybooks. The idea came out of the need for a change in the art scene in Saudi Arabia telling an intriguing story that captures readers of all ages.
Behairy and Al-Shiekh collaborated on writing and drawing the story with the help of Omar Al-Enizy who admired their vision and imagination in taking a story that everyone knew and incorporating an Arab perspective into it. “I hope to work on more projects like Elias which enhance our culture and brings back its glory in an international manner,” said Al-Enizy.
Behairy believes that nothing is out of our reach no matter where a person is born or bred. “Each of us is born in different circumstances leading to different outcomes but that doesn’t mean our circumstances determine what our life should be,” she said. “Through Elias we try to show that anything is possible.”
She said that storytelling is a way of bringing out her true self. “What I write and draw speaks about me and how I feel and think. It might be merely a story to the world but to me it is a way to express my views,” she said.
Elias could have been in a book like any other story but that was not what the writers and creators wanted. “We wanted it to be value-based and leave a positive effect on our community while turning the gallery into a sort of an intellectual activity that merges with the spring break,” said Al-Shiekh.
The setting of the gallery fits the theme of the story with an addition of a camel and tent by the Art and Culture Society as part of the adventure of Elias for people of all ages.
A German delegation visited the gallery on the day of its launch and was delighted to see what these young women had done. “I was truly surprised with the talent that these girls possess. I hope they will someday establish themselves internationally,” said a member of the delegation.