Educational workshops in the field of plastic arts will be launched next week, which the Visual Arts Centre will hold remotely, in order to play its educational role within its primary project in educating members of society on visual arts, in addition to invoking those who have talents in different categories, and attracting them to practice visual arts.
To find out the nature of these workshops, Artist Salman Al-Malik, Director of the Visual Arts Centre, talks to Al-Sharq newspaper about the areas of these workshops. He also touches on the extent of the interaction of the centre’s pioneers through its digital platforms with the package of activities and competitions, which the Centre previously launched within its awareness campaign on the dangers of the Corona epidemic.
The discussion also deals with the most prominent differences between the virtual board and the direct one, in addition to other related technical aspects, as follows:
-What is the extent of interaction of the participants of the digital Visual Arts Centre with the activities that the Centre offers, especially after the Corona pandemic?
First, I confirm that all activities and events launched by the Centre since the repercussions of the Corona pandemic come within the specialties of the Centre, which is the field of visual arts, to support that everyone must stay at home, as well as occupy their free time through various activities in the field of plastic arts.
According to what we have monitored from posts with our activities and events across the centre’s digital platforms, there is remarkable interaction. We have received many posts that reflect the achievement of the awareness campaign launched by the Visual Arts Centre under the slogan “We are stronger”, within the comprehensive awareness campaign of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. This confirms our success in what we have sought that is to reach out to the members of society and occupy their spare time while they are in their house quarantine.
As a result of the interaction received from the “From Every Home, A Drawing ” competition in its first version, we are now preparing to launch the second version. This version will be characterized with more depth, and with more prizes for the winning participants.
Technical symbols
-What is the significance of the “Think with a Creator” competition, which was launched by the Centre in conjunction with the blessed month of Ramadan?
Through this competition, we sought to achieve two goals simultaneously. The first is to occupy the free time of people staying at home. This is at the forefront of the priorities for which we have presented this competition and other competitions. The second is to introduce them to prominent figures in the field of plastic art in Qatar and other countries, as the competition is based on asking a question about them and their contributions in this field, in the endeavour of the Centre to spread
arts in society.
The beginning was with the artistic community prominent figures represented by the late artists, Jassim Zaini, Youssef Al Sharif, and Wafa Al-Hamad, and we did not overlook other Arab artists, such as the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, and other plastic artists.
Therefore, we sought to provide information about these prominent figures on the one hand, and to document their artistic career in the field of visual arts on the other. We, therefore, launched the “Think with a Creator” competition, in which valuable prizes were allocated to the winners, welcoming everyone’s participation from different categories. The competition is run according to regulatory conditions, not incapacitating, to contribute in turn to facilitating and motivating the task of the participants.
Skills Development
-In your opinion, where does the role of the educational centre come in contributing to spreading the arts and teaching them to beginners, or to developing the skills of the gifted?
This role exists, as the Centre plays educational roles through the departments it comprises, which are drawing, fossil engraving, Arabic calligraphy, and ceramics. This is based on our keenness to spread the arts in society, according to the vision of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, (towards a conscious society with a strong affection and a healthy body).
Through this educational role, the centre will launch distance-learning workshops, prepared at a high level of professionalism by the centre’s trainers, who deserve real praise for the efforts they have made. They have worked on preparing educational “videos”, which will be broadcast through the Centre’s channel on “YouTube”. The aim is to teach participants drawing, calligraphy, typography and ceramics, in very easy ways, helping their owners to love the arts, and practicing them up to professionalism. This is one of our goals in spreading the arts in society, as previously mentioned.
Optical differentials
-As the activities of the centre produce plastic artistic participations, as an artist, do you see a difference between the plastic art painting presented directly to the public, and the virtual?
First of all, we must realize that we are in exceptional and emergency conditions in the first place. These are alternatives that we resort to in light of the commitment to the general orientations of the State directing all to stay at home. We have sought, therefore, to occupy their times during this home stay with the activities and events that the Centre presents remotely. However, with this exceptional circumstance, the branch cannot cancel the original activities and events. Works of art that the public see directly remain the original, and what else is a temporary alternative, but that which is not completely attained should not be completely left. We ask Allah that He lifts this pandemic for our  normal life to return during which we could enjoy fine art.
As for the differences between the original painting and the virtual one, there are, of course, differences in the forefront of which are the degree of colour, the size of the work, and the direct audience’s sense of the artwork displayed. If there were no differences, there would be no museums that embrace exhibitions of plastic arts, or become permanent centres for exhibiting these works.
Arts Square
-Does this mean that such events have achieved their goals in spreading visual arts to society?
It seems so. According to the manner in which we are receiving the various artistic participations from various categories this seems to be the case. Our basic system from which we proceed – as I mentioned earlier – is the Centre’s making visual arts familiar to society, which is what we are working on. We have seen a clear interaction in this, so this educational role from a distance, complements that role that we used to play in the past, through the “Arts Square” to attract the attendees of the General Organization for the Cultural District (Katara). At the same time, students of schools are also interested through the establishment of many educational workshops for them, in order to take advantage of their desire towards the arts and their learning, as well as embracing the artistic talents reflected in such posts.
Perhaps in the outdated version of the “From Every Home, A drawing” competition, which was launched with the remote awareness campaign, the fruits of what we were working on are highlighted, as we found promising works of what we were previously doing from promising artworks by the participants, whether in the category of young people, or for adults. Some of them attended workshops in the Centre before the Corona pandemic, so that the outputs of these workshops will be those promising works of art, whose owners will be documented by setting up a large exhibition, embracing these works, after the effects of this epidemic are over, and life returns to normal.
-And as an artist, too, what have you observed that is missing during Ramadan this year?
The most important thing that I notice is missing during Ramadan this year is the performance of prayers in the masjids. With that, of course, come the Taraweeh Salah. We would not have ever imagined that one day would come upon us in which masjids get closed. For this, we miss this element of faith in our lives. In addition to this, family meetings are missed too. But this is done for the protection of everyone from the impact of the coronavirus, and then the protection of the society itself.
Art project
-On a personal level, as an artist, how have you invested your time while staying at home?
I benefited from that on a personal level. I reviewed by priorities. In addition, I focused on the completion of many artistic works, which revolve around one theme, women. They are that wife, mother, sister and daughter, who have a great role that they play in the service of the family. Therefore, it is necessary to celebrate women artistically by performing artworks that deal with that theme, highlighting their role, being indebted to them, returning the favour, and highlighting their role in plastic works. These works are in addition to other works that I have already completed about the same idea, to be included in my general artistic project.