For the fourth year running, Nour Festival of Arts celebrates the culture of the Middle East and North Africa with exhibitions, talks, performances and other events in London throughout October and November 2013. Below is a sample of what’s going on during the Festival, including two exhibitions (Lawand at Mosaic Rooms, Samia Halaby at Ayyam Gallery) and a forum/discussion between authors William Sutcliffe and Selma Dabbagh (Mosaic Rooms).
Lawand at Mosaic Rooms, London
Equinox: From Beirut to London is the first solo exhibition in the UK for Syrian artist Lawand. Along with oil paintings and pages of abstract sketches, the artist collaborated with award-winning poet Pascale Petit to create an art book entitled “Effigies” in which Petit divined poetic responses to Lawand’s drawings.
Lawand describes his work as,
...concerned with notions of ongoing suffering and the portrayal of humanity in the depths of its vulnerability… [at the same time] essentially optimistic and life-affirming…*
*(from exhibition page on Mosaic Rooms website).
Samia Halaby at Ayyam Gallery, London
Palestinian artist, author and activist Samia Halaby shows a number of large abstract paintings at Ayyam Gallery, London. Credited with inspiring a new generation of contemporary Arab art since her career began in the 60s, 77-year old Halaby continues to “…challenge conventional approaches to painting.“**
Halaby’s visual language of abstraction explores what she has felt and seen throughout her life and “… allows viewers to recognise their own memories and experiences…“** She says about her work, “Abstraction is not about the artist or his or her individualism, but rather about the far more difficult and thus more satisfying ambition to invent a visual language capable of containing exchangeable knowledge. ..the uniqueness of painting is that this shared knowledge is a visual one.”
**(from Ayyam Gallery website).
Authors William Sutcliffe and Selma Dabbagh in conversation at Mosaic Rooms
Selma Dabbagh leads the discussion around Sutcliffe’s new book, “The Wall“, starting with his background as a secular Jew from North London through to his research visits to Israel and the West Bank and encounters with The Separation Barrier [Wall, Fence] that surrounds the Palestinian Territories. It is The Wall that inspired the book, from which Sutcliffe gave a brief reading, about a Jewish settler boy in the West Bank who befriends a Palestinian girl on the other side.
The story calls to mind another book (and film), “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne (despite the fence that separates them, a German boy befriends a Jewish prisoner boy in a concentration camp). Both Sutcliffe and Boyne write bittersweet scenes in which the protagonist can also be read as a “good guy in a bad place”; he is innocent of the bad things going on around him, and even so, he attempts to make right with the “Other” once “the truth” is learned/revealed, with varying success for the protagonist at the end of the story.
Click to find out more about Nour Festival. Through the month of November, there are exhibitions, special events, talks, performances and screenings, many of which are free.
More links and information
- Nour Festival – Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
- Syrian artist Lawand at Mosaic Rooms, London – 4 October through 29 November 2013
- Culture Trip writes Syrian Artist Lawand Brings his Beirut Inspired Canvases to London
- Samia Halaby at Ayyam Gallery, London – 9 October through 30 November 2013
- MEMO interviews Palestinian artist Samia Halaby
- Listen to the podcast/audio recording of the conversation between William Sutcliffe and Selma Dabbagh on the Recorded Lectures page – Mosaic Rooms website
- Read more about Selma Dabbagh and her book “Out of It”
- Read more about “The Wall” by William Sutcliffe
– Lawand at Mosaic Rooms, The Mosaic Rooms, A.M. Qattan Foundation, Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road, London SW5 0SW from 4 October through 29 November 2013. Free admission.
– Samia Halaby at Ayyam Gallery, Ayyam Gallery, 143 New Bond Street, 1st Floor, London, W1S 2TP from 9 October through 30 November 2013. Free admission
– Nour Festival at various locations in Kensington and Chelsea from 4 October through 30 November 2013. Many events and exhibitions are free.