Darb 1718 is hosting Shakhabeet, a children’s art exhibition, at its landmark location in Old Cairo. The venue has become synonymous with inclusive events aimed to attract and welcome everyone and Shakhabeet, which opened on Sunday, is no different.
Upon arrival at the exhibition, my doubts that this would be a ‘forced’ event disappeared instantly. These were not youngsters forced by their parents to be artistic; these were happy kids doing what they loved. The idea behind the exhibition is that children have their own unique language and Darb 1718 wanted to see this translated in art, believing it would capture the attention of adults if only for the sake of nostalgia.
“The idea is to give talented kids, or young people in general, an outlet to present their work. The works were submitted a day before the opening and will be presented throughout this week until the 27th of September”, Darb 1718 said.
Though the turnout was less than ideal, leaving the place a bit empty, the event was surprisingly very entertaining, with Like Jelly’s Mo El Quessny providing music for the kids and their parents. The children thoroughly enjoyed the music and even requested songs from the performer who was only too happy to oblige, telling charming stories between his songs.
The exhibition itself offers a nostalgic insight into the minds of children with some being endearingly childish and simple and others surprisingly sophisticated. One of the drawings portrayed a grotesque male face that was almost disturbing, but excellent nonetheless, by a 12 year old budding artist. You can certainly expect to see the kinds of drawings that portray world peace and flowers and other artistic endeavors which most of us embarked on years ago in our classrooms.
Though the exhibition showcases children’s work, the gallery is obviously curated with adults as the clear target. In fact, the space did not look like it was prepared to especially receive children and that was a good thing, with none of the balloons and excessive toys that are often placed in order to signal a switch from ‘adult’ to ‘child.’
Instead, I did not feel out of place when I was at Darb 1718 nor like this was a ‘kids’ event’ that I could not attend or worse, could only attend with a child. After all, the exhibition is about blurring that line between child artist and adult artist with the idea that kids have their own unique form of artistry.
In any case, the exhibition is worth visiting, even if at the very least it will bring a smile to your face. Some of the drawings show pure joy and capture the enthusiasm and erratic happiness of being a child perfectly. The children were all outgoing, friendly and above all, proud of their work.
The event was free of charge which means that everyone can enjoy this trip down memory lane and remember the days when drawing pyramids or planet earth was a worthy accomplishment to show around proudly to anyone who cared to see.