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Journey to Japan
January 06, 2016
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In June 2015, the Crossway Foundation and Art Jameel launched a competition to find talented young creatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and the United Kingdom, to win the creative journey of a lifetime to Japan.

The eight winners travelled to Japan from November 15 – 30, 2015, to collaborate with local arts and social organisations in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Naoshima, under the mentorship of the project’s Artistic Lead, Kuwaiti visual artist Monira Al Qadri.

The journey began in Tokyo where the team got to know each other. They sampled all kinds of weird and wonderful food, visited internationally-known and prolific contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, met emerging Japanese artists at Tokyo Wonder Site, trained in the art of Butoh (a form of Japanese dance theatre) and had a studio visit with artist collective Chim-Pom, which ended in a ‘purikura’ or photo booth.

The team moved to Kyoto after Tokyo, where it experienced life in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese guest house); learnt how to prepare matcha green tea (powdered tea) in a tea ceremony; made sculptures from everyday objects purchased from a 100 yen shop with sculptor Teppi Kaneuji; practised zen meditation in Taizo-in Temple and spent a sunny afternoon exploring the many temples and shrines dotted around the mountains of Arashiyama.

Then it travelled to Hiroshima, a city that was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. It worked there with internationally renowned artist Masao Okabe, tracing trees that had been affected by the atomic bomb using the technique of ‘frottage’.

The group was subsequently given the task of putting up a temporary exhibition at Gallery G in Hiroshima with the works made during the workshop. Its last stop was Naoshima, Inujima and Teshima, a collection of islands located in the Seto Inland Sea, known for their world-class contemporary art and architecture.

For the final part of their journey, the team returned to Tokyo, where members learnt the art of bonsai in a workshop and spent a day at the Ikejiri Institute of Design, reviewing their two weeks in Japan and the work they had created as a result.

“Our aim in organising these journeys is to identify and invest in the next generation of artists and creative entrepreneurs, to give them the opportunity to develop personally and professionally through first-hand experience of other cultures and art practices, and to provide them a platform to express themselves in an innovative and creative way”, said Imogen Ware, Managing Director, Crossway Foundation. It is a UK-based charitable foundation delivering arts and education initiatives for young people in the Middle East and the UK. Art Jameel is a Saudi Arabia-based arts supportive organisation.

The team

Gaby Sahhar (France/Palestine/UK), is based in London. “When I explore my creations and inventions in my practice”, says the artist, “I try to examine human behavioural patterns around technology as inspiration”.

Hugh Guthrie (UK) works with sound. “One of the most interesting aspects of music and sound to me”, he says, “is its ability to encapsulate the listener and to evoke emotion. The use of field recordings in music can help hugely with this endeavour”.

Mohammed Alfaraj (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is a freelance photographer/filmmaker and also a student at King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals. In his work, he likes to focus on documentary storytelling that involves real stories and he also likes interacting with people and places.

Mohammed Al Kindi (UAE/Oman) is firm that he “just wants to create whatever ideas I have in my mind without being entitled to one thing”. He does not like to be slotted; so far, he has been a graphic designer, videographer, photographer and owner of a clothing brand.

Mohamed Rowaizak (Egypt/Sharjah) is currently doing a BA in Architecture while studying Sociology and Design Management. “My artwork”, he says, “is an exuberant fusion between two worlds. The first is generative, logical and objective. The second is emotional, spiritual, and subjective”.

Najd Al Taher (Kuwait) is currently a Graphic Design student at the American University of Kuwait. “While attending my first ever concert, which happened to be Madonna”, she recalls, “I was stunned by the way music and visual imagery met and came alive together on stage. At that moment everything made sense to me, and that’s when I knew what I was destined for and what I wanted to do. I started to experiment with music and photography ever since, and slowly started to sculpt my point of view on life through art.”

For Nour Flayhan (American-Lebanese), illustration is very similar to the world of imagination. “It has many undiscovered areas awaiting to be stumbled upon and found”, she says. Sarah Abuabdallah (Saudi Arabia) works primarily with video. She grew up in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, and has recently completed her Masters degree in Digital Media at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
Art Jameel, one of Community Jameel Initiatives, announced the names of the winners of Art Jameel Photography Award (AJPA) 2015 in its 6th edition, in a ceremony that was held at Hussein Jameel House, headquarters of Abdul Latif Jameel Company in Jeddah in mid-December 2015. The function was inaugurated by Faisal ElSamannoudi, Vice president of Abdul Latif Jameel Commercial Development Co., at a gathering of members of the media and the culture and arts community.

Cash prizes amounting to SAR80,000 was given away to the first five winners of the competition. The five winning works were chosen from 30 qualifying works that reflected the theme of ‘Transformations’.

Adreano Pimenta of Portugal, won the first place for his work ‘Deconstruction of Inhabited Spaces – Transitions Behind the Obvious’, and Estebrak Al-Ansari, from the Sultanate of Oman, won the second prize for her photo ‘Omanis Under Water’.

The third prize went to Raihana Alhashmi, of the UAE. The fourth and fifth awards went to Marwan Haredy of Egypt, for his photo ‘I Am Visible’ and Rawan Alhusaini of Jordan, for her photo ‘Renounce’, respectively.

Dalia Moussa, Art Jameel Manager, said that “the Art Jameel Photography Awards succeeded during the last six years in achieving great success and now AJPA is one of the most important competitions in unearthing and supporting young talents in the Arab world”.

AJPA, which was launched in 2010, is a cultural, artistic project launched by Community Jameel to discover rising talents and help them develop their skills through personal consultation and by supporting their photography, regionally and internationally.

The sixth edition of this competition, in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, witnessed the participation of about 400 photographers, which included Saudi citizens and residents, as well as participants from the UAE, the Sultanate of Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. The competition’s sixth edition expanded to include artistic talent from the entire Gulf area.

Winning the AJPA awards bestows many rewards on the artists: they become qualified to become one of Art Jameel’s artists; get the opportunity to qualify for a contract as a photographer with Art Jameel Initiatives; have the opportunity to present some of the selected photographs in events organised by the hosts and have the opportunity to exhibit winning photographs in regional and international exhibitions.

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