Art, Sustainability and Dubai; the role of the new IFDC-Pullman Artist Playground

In a highly well-received move by art lovers, regional artists and the media fraternity alike, an Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) Pret-a-Cover Buyers Lane and Pullman Dubai Creek City Center Partnership led to the introduction of a modern, promising new art exhibition space “Artist Playground by Pullman” in Dubai. A VIP launch evening saw some of the most sought-after regional artists bring forward powerful exhibits that left a mark on the audience, representing perspectives from the Gulf, South Asia and and the West. With its warm and welcoming vibes, the IFDC and Pullman Dubai initiated space promises to become a central element of the maturing art scene in the city.

The Artists and the Art

The pieces on display depicted impactful scenes of nature, calming interpretations of spirituality, and mesmerising abstractism which kept the audience highly engaged, and eager to interact with the artists. The names behind the art were some of the regions most well-known; Ahmad Khan, and Zulqarnain with their deft calligraphy, Shabir Mir, in attendance with his striking sculptors, and also Mohamed Ibrahim, the maestro at illusions. The list goes on to include Arif Khan and his spirituality-themed works, as well as the natural landscape expert Meena Kamal, with Guljee’s own critically acclaimed apprentice, Humaira Hussain also gracing the event. IFDC’s initiative made sure to include not only established stars, but also support emerging artists with valuable visibility, as Emirates based Sanaa Merchant expressed how an initiative like this was “just what her business needed.”

 

 

The winning combination of a warm, ambient interior, a supportive partner community and enthusiasm shown by the artist community has naturally brought about a significant media buzz surrounding the launch of the IFDC and Pullman initiated space. The promise this space shows is not limited to the artist community; it has the potential to become a vehicle of education and awareness of global issues to wider society as well.

 

Progress towards the pressing global sustainability goals of today, like the reversal of climate change and environmental damage requires the mobilisation of every asset available to those in the developed world – and the art is one of those assets. The case of Abbas Al Mosawi, an artist invited to the launch evening is a prime example.

Renowned Bahrain-based artist Mosawi is someone who takes his social responsibility in stride with the commitments of his profession. He regularly dedicates significant time to the achievement of globally important goals like environment conservation and climate change, through his standing in the community and prowess as an artist. In recent interviews, Mosawi can be seen talking about his involvement with Project Peace 2020; a UN initiative that helps raise awareness of global sustainability, climate change and environmental concerns through the art. He runs regular workshops with children to develop their artistic abilities, in order to enable them to express their concern over global issues, being sensitive to children’s ability for genuine expression. He dedicates significant resources to run large-scale workshops where young children can interact with, and create, innovative art pieces related to the harms of plastic pollution; this is a powerful practice that can instill a lifelong consciousness of their connection to nature. This connection, over time, can form part of the children’s moral compass, with genuine care of the environment becoming an innate attribute that results in unforced positive action.

 


The creativity of international artists in this arena to solve sustainability issues has also resulted in extremely powerful work that has had entire communities transform. For example, Frances Whitehead of the USA, once planted 453 pink blossomed service-berry trees that double as thermometers, on an abandoned railway track. The flowers bloom for five days, attract public attention for the sheer beauty they represent, and also notify the public of changes in temperature with their appearance – this converts ordinary citizens into climate change activists.

This, precisely, is the strongest impact that art can have on the masses. With the support of artists like Abbas al Mosawi retraining consciouses, the severe disconnect between modern life and nature can be slowly overcome. A thoughtful visually powerful project like that of Frances Whitehead cannot be too far off in a city like Dubai either, with its population to be as aware, proactive and well-traveled as it is. The IFDC space in a central metropolitan city under pragmatic leadership, can catalyse this process, by cradling more sustainability-linked artwork and artists to spark a more environmentally active Dubai for us all.

 

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