Meet three generations of artists from Sharqiya.
The Established Artist
Nabila Al Bassam
Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education, AUB
- Founder of Arab Heritage Gallery, one of the first art galleries in the EP
- Co-founder of the Business Women’s Forum of the EP
Artist, fashion designer and businesswoman, Nabila Al Bassam lives to create. It is evident that her art, her culture and her family mean everything to her and that she is an all-rounder when it comes to creating and entrepreneurship.
Silkscreen, batik, jewelry and fashion designing, you name it – Nabila Al Bassam has mastered it all. All her pieces are greatly influenced by her heritage and thus the name of her art gallery – one of the very first in the Eastern Province (EP). Her jewelry and clothing designs are also largely influenced by Arab culture. Her gallery features a tiny gift shop which holds some of the quaintest crafts inspired by traditional Bedouin culture, all handmade and equally beautiful.
She has also been part of the Business Women’s Forum of the EP. She helped found it back in 1999, initiating the idea and hosting the first couple of meeting in her gallery. She has since then retired, to focus more on her “art and grandchildren.” Still, there is no denying that Nabila Al Bassam, through her passion and perseverance has been a pioneer in the world of art and business in Sharqiya – constantly contributing, supporting and encouraging.
The Contemporary Artist
Manal Al Dowayan
Master’s in Systems Analysis and Design
- Medium: Black and white photography
- Artwork by Another Artist: El Jaleo by John Singer Sergent
- Work Playlist: Blues or Arabic string instrumental music such as the Oud
How did you get started?
There was no specific time that I realized that this is what I was meant to do. I was always interested in the environment of the art scene. I see art as an amazing way to be free and art is my outlet to make an argument in a socially acceptable way.
What do you think about the art scene in Sharqiya?
The art scene in Sharqiya is vibrant and interesting. Three aspects play a great role in what the art scene is today: the old art scene in Alhasa, the art scene in Saudi Aramco dating back to the 1950s and of course the busy Bahrain art scene. The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture will help the art scene explode. I believe that the art scene here is lacking sufficient exhibition space but this does not hold back artists as they utilize creative ways to express themselves.
From your exhibits, which is your favorite?
All the pieces I create are my children. I love them all equally. My most recent work was out of my comfort zone, as I had never used videography before this exhibit. I received a grant from the Rolls Royce Art Program for which I created “I had no wings,” a seven-screen video and sound installation, which I filmed from the backseat of a moving car driving around Sharqiya. This exhibit questions the symbolism of designated spaces.
What inspires you?
I am inspired from the written word such as poetry and stories, whether read or spoken. People absorb what they read differently and allow their imagination to soar. I allow the written word to inspire me by letting my imagination take me to a space in my head where I create my concepts.
I want to have a huge retrospective in my hometown in Sharqiya where all my artwork is curated. One of my dreams is to have a piece of public art in Sharqiya. I also hope to continue to contribute to the art scene and be able to survive as an artist.
III. The Emerging Artist
21, Currently studying Chemical Engineering in Jubail
- Book: Aku no Hana (manga)
- Song: Reflection Eternal by Nujabes
- Person: Eliza Ivanova
CURRENT FAVORITE TOOLS
- Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
- Faber-Castell’s Polychromos Colored Pencils
- Any Standard Ballpoint Pen
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by absolutely everything. Anything you ever experience is incredible once you stop for a moment and think about it. Whether it’s my ever-racing subconscious, quantum mechanics or just how my chair stands stiff and proud on its four legs when I know it’s made from billions of atoms trying to hold together, just like you and me. Nothing is ever boring or dull. People should learn to see instead of just look.
What are your favorite things to sketch?
I love drawing with energy and to me that’s the most important element in my work: your energy is your fingerprint. You can’t copy another person’s signature freehand because you can’t copy their energy and it’s the same with mark making, painting, music and everything else. So, to answer your question, I like to draw emotions, feelings or anything that moves me in any way, whether it’s a human figure, a young tree or an adorable cockroach. I would say most of my work has a hint of surrealism in it. I like surrealism.
What does art mean to you?
Art to me is simply a means for survival, because I can never be myself completely if I didn’t create, and if I can’t fully be who I am then what’s the point of living? Whenever I’m creating something, I feel completely connected to the universe, everything around me and most importantly, my own soul.