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At Art Jameel graduates exhibition, the past meets the future - Daily News Egypt

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At Art Jameel graduates exhibition, the past meets the future

In Egypt, it seems to be women who are taking the lead in crafts, says Traditional Arts school manager

Lace metal light bulbs and a full-size minbar (pulpit in a mosque); a fantastic wooden vase and ceramic panneaux inspired by the geometry of fruit–these are the creations of students in the Art Jameel programme.

The objects that are born when time-worn Egyptian techniques are applied to contemporary concepts prove that traditional crafts are far from extinction. Rather, they successfully hold a new space for themselves in the modern world of design.

Seventeen fresh graduates of the Art Jameel Programme for Traditional Arts received their diplomas last week at the Fustat Traditional Crafts Centre. In the presence of the media and honoured guests, including Dr. Neveen El-Kilany, head of the Cultural Development Fund at the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, they shared their plans regarding their future projects and presented works in ceramics, wood, and metal.

Photo Handout to DNE
Photo Handout to DNE

Each of the handicrafts carries both familiar Egyptian elements and the individual style of the artist.

“It is not easy to point out whose work I like best this year. All our students are like children to us,” says Khaled Azzam, director of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts based in London.

“We see different potential in people and just help to bring it out. It is the most pleasing thing to see them discover what they have in them already. The overall quality of the products presented by the students is getting better and better every year,” according to the organisers.

Established in 2009 by Art Jameel, the Community Jameel initiative aims to train young Egyptians in the traditional arts, in collaboration with the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. During the two-year course, the students learn four traditional craft styles along with general art theory and supporting subjects, and immediately start putting their skills into practice.

“In Egypt, we have the craft, but we don’t have the systematic way of learning it,” said Ola Said, one of this year’s graduates. “I liked it very much at Art Jameel because it has a very structured curriculum. We had classes three days per week but were actually working full time on the assignments.”

“Also, we have people coming from England to give us additional training in design, colours, and other things like that,” she added.

Ola’s own graduation work is no less than a suggestion to Cairo authorities to replace the not-so-good looking water coolers with traditional sebil (public water fountains) around the city. She has presented an example of one such object in ceramics.

Many of the attendees in the course are women, and even the large carved wooden door displayed at the exhibition was made by a female student, Marwa Hassanein.

Lace metal light bulbs and a full-size minbar (pulpit in a mosque); a fantastic wooden vase and ceramic panneaux inspired by the geometry of fruit–these are the creations of students in the Art Jameel programme.
Lace metal light bulbs and a full-size minbar (pulpit in a mosque); a fantastic wooden vase and ceramic panneaux inspired by the geometry of fruit–these are the creations of students in the Art Jameel programme. (Photo Handout to DNE)

“Apparently in Egypt it seems to be the women who are taking the lead in crafts,” Azzam points out. “Women in Egypt are strong. These ladies are working with heavy machinery, forming clay, and cutting wood.”

From Azzam’s point of view, such handicrafts empower women. “It’s a sector of work that they can benefit from. Most of these things can be made in home industries or very small-scale machinery, so the women really can generate income for themselves,” she said.

How the students apply their skills after the course is over is one of the concerns of the educational programme.

According to Renata Papsch, general manager at Art Jameel International, most of the course graduates from previous years are working in the same field now. “Many of them have formed companies together, while some of them teach handicrafts. Actually, the group of teachers that are teaching now is the first group of students that we taught here.”

Candidates have already been selected by interviews to enter the course in academic year 2016/17. Soon they are to discover the wonders of geometry, observational drawing, decorative floral patterns, painting, and colour theory, as well as the crafts of woodwork, metalwork, ceramics, gypsum, and stained glass.

The applicants come from diverse social and professional backgrounds. “We had engineers, business people, and university graduates. We even had farmers,” Papsch explained. “We received applications from Egyptians from all over the country, which makes us very happy.”

For those who will miss this short-term display at Fustat, another chance will come in January 2017, when an expanded version of it will be shown at the British Council in Cairo.

The students will produce special works for the exhibition. Some objects will also be for sale, as the organisers have already received many requests from visitors willing to carry home a piece or two.

The crafts are displayed at Fustat Traditional Crafts Centre until 1September between 10am and 4pm.

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  • Samaa Ibrahiim

    Journey to South Africa
    Tribalism : The Pondo

    Culture can be norms , traditions , customs , behavior and attitudes of a society . There is no worldwide definition that include terms or concepts form the word ” Culture”. Many historians and researchers believe acknowledging any region’s language , historical and political background , religion system ,is the perfect identification of its culture .What about digging the life of a tribe !! . What is actually tribalism? Tribalism is an academic description of Life within any tribe . Being a tribal person does not indicate that person is primitive or feral due to color , race , or beliefs . He owns what makes him different and special . He realizes his own through practicing his traditions or creating spiritual thoughts. Tribalism is the un echoed voice of any African country’s nationalism .

    South Africa is a colonized country . A place where mixed races are intermingled now . A third generation of black and white genes . Most of researchers waited long time after experiences and scientific studies . They have a great desire to categorize human beings . Consequently , they concluded to a theory involve particular types of their taste . They ignored the indigenous people and were cast away of their lands . Tribes are vulgar inhabitants who live besides the edge .They were out of the study zone . Their simplicity and living nature is meaningless , in comparison , to the new generation . They forgot that our grandfathers were peasants one day .

    THE indigenous are the most important individuals in any African country . They are the real citizens of the country and deserve to be appreciated . They must have educational system fill out their energies and activate the brains . Culture is not Shakespeare’s literature and history can not be for imaginable heroes . Is seems that citizens in South Africa sacrificed all privileges to reach independence on the political level and humane one . Today it is a journey to South Africa to the Pondo land.

    Pond tribe is geographically located in Eastern cape Province of South Africa . It is divided to ethnic groups .

    This tribe believes in one creator who is called Uthinko and much to the existence of spirits ” clans of ancestors” . Superstitions and magic actions presume a rare unification . What is unreasonable and adds some sense of ambiguity that The Elephant clan is a symbol of peace . While in other civilizations, it is a figure of power and destruction . The myth of the elephant can be resolved if there is a flash back to the history of this tribe . Some of moderns historians say the Pondo is a safe place to live . All their past is white page of honor , respect and love . They never fought each other . They did not recognize wars until in 1184 , their territory was taken with “cape colony ” .

    One of the most prominent ceremonies held is called ” the mysterious lady ” ; A naked woman colors her face in white and covers the rest of her body with leaves . She dances in front of every one as a way to honor her ancestries and the immortal souls . The head of every family is resembled to combine ritual and temporal powers as a method to communicate with decent people . Nelson Mandela was a proficient of their Xosa language . He is national hero and a tribal son . He realized colonialism and its drastic imposes over his nation . He had not played peace symphony actually he made it .

    Tribalism is a part of Africanism’s concept . One is all and all is one . They revoke to be treated as exceptions who have rights and legacies guaranteed within a constitution . They seek to maintain priorities as the native people of their land .
    To be continued

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