“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” These words, spoken by the famous American statesman, Theodore Roosevelt Jr, echo Dubai’s incredible story of development. From the time when the first communities built their homes on the shores of Dubai’s Creek until today, when the city stands tall as one of the most visited and most admired urban centres in the world, history, culture, and tradition have been the driving force behind its march into the future.
With the dual aim of being future-ready as well as preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Emirate, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to constructing bridges of positive cultural exchange between the many different nationalities residing in the city. In one such effort, the Authority is organising Al Shindagha Doors, an exhibition to be showcased during the upcoming debut season of Al Shindagha Days, which is scheduled from 9th January – 18th January 2020. The exhibition, which will take place at the event’s main entrance in Al Shindagha, will showcase traditional doors used previously in the old buildings of Al Shindagha.
The exhibition is characterized by the traditional architecture of Dubai, which retained its Islamic character and decorations that shows the Emirati craftsmen’s talent and creativity, through dealing with raw materials such as wood, where they were able, despite the harsh conditions surrounding them, to transform the wood panels into art pieces. With the magnificence of architectural design and traditional ornamentations, these creative fingers left their mark on the doors and windows of the old houses that are still the focus of attention of many tourists and architecture enthusiasts.
Four UAE national artists took the exhibited doors as inspiration and interpreted them in various mediums.
SAGGAF AL HASHEMI | Painting
Saggaf’s inspiration behind this piece was based on the idea of painting one of our ancestors who has teleported through the doors of Al Shindagha as an illustration of their dreams becoming true and being the reason for this dream to happen.
“For me Al Shindagha doors represent ‘the gate’ that brought our ancestors’ ambitions and efforts to search and find what’s hidden and what they wanted to secure for the new generation for them to have a better life. These ambitions have been achieved and we, as the new generation, are living them today. So in my painting, I’m showing those meanings through various elements: The diver as a symbol of ambition who is seeking for the unknown. He has found the unknown and he holds is the astronaut suit which symbolises the deep thinking, the high ambitions and the long-term vision to secure what was impossible. The way the diver holds the suits tells us that our ancestors believed that they can achieve the impossible and because of them the impossible became possible. This journey is the story that was teleported through the doors leading to where we are today.”
FATIMA ALAWADHI | 3D Installation
The Wind Knocks - The artwork is made of the metal pieces used in the traditional doors of Dubai’s old houses. The metal pieces were mostly installed for decorative purposes to enhance the aesthetics of the door, in additional to the latch and the door knocker. “The sound of the door knocker ‘Al Midag’, which served as a doorbell, is very familiar to the residents who lived in Dubai’s historic neighborhoods. The pieces are used in the artwork to create wind chimes that allow the wind to ‘knock’ and take the visitors back to their childhood when the sound meant the arrival of a visitor or a dear friend.”
AHLAM AL BANNAI | 3D installation
“I was attracted to the idea of doors and privacy, as they are the separation between our personal life and what we choose to share with the outside world for several reasons such as customs and traditions, people’s judgment or envy.
“According to the writer Dr. Abd al-Sattar al-Azzawi, there are some motifs, such as
branches and decorative leaves on the door frames, that symbolize the expulsion of envy and the evil eye, as are some aromatic plants whose decorations we find on some doors.
The idea is to translate those inscriptions and decorations that were carved on the doors to a photographic work that portrays some of our ancestral beliefs.”
JUMANA AL SHEIKH | 3D installation
“Back in the day, people in the UAE had a perspective towards doors in terms of them being open to everyone. The community felt welcomed to knock on doors at any time to ask for help or spend time together to socialize. This artwork expresses the intimate meaning of openness that the old doors used to hold. In addition, the various sizes of the square shapes represent doors of different social classes in a neighborhood, which mostly all had the same concept of welcoming people to enter them.”
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