INTERNATIONAL exhibitions displaying the works of Bahraini artists will be held every year following the success of a showcase in the UK.
Eighteen Bahraini artists were featured at the ‘Be Bahrain’ Art Week exhibition, which was held at Asia House in London under the patronage of Bahrain’s Ambassador to the UK Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa.
The event, which was part of the Art Bahrain Across Borders (ArtBAB) initiative, also featured a panel discussion with Bahraini artist Lulwa Al Khalifa, Annada founder and creative director Nada Alawi, veteran art consultant and adviser Alistair Hicks and was moderated by ArtBAB outreach and VIP relations head David Hawkins.
The art week will run until Wednesday and is backed by Tamkeen and organised by art investment consultancy, Art Select, as part of a joint effort to promote Bahraini art and artists across borders and further develop the local arts sector.
The event was also attended by former UK Secretary of State for Culture John Whittingdale, who hailed relations between Bahrain and Britain.
“Without a doubt the Middle East is of huge importance to the UK and the Gulf as a whole is actually the largest investor in Britain,” Mr Whittingdale told the GDN.
“It’s also our second biggest export partner outside Europe, so the economic ties are very important.
“It’s not, I think, a coincidence that the first major foreign trip that Prime Minister Theresa May made was last week to Bahrain to attend the GCC Summit.
“I’m very conscious that we want to build stronger links and that’s hopefully something that events like this will help achieve.
“Bahrain has a very rich heritage, just like us in the UK.
“The important thing is what I hope this exhibition is looking to do is to demonstrate that art and culture is flourishing in Bahrain as much as it is here in London.”
One of the focuses of the panel discussion centred around exposure for non-Eurocentric art, and Mr Hicks told the GDN “not enough” was being done for Asia.
“Art can be one of the great breakers-down of bad barriers and borders,” he explained.
“Anything that produces interchange between cultures and brings works of art to another environment, I think, should be on the whole encouraged.
“Asia House has been a rallying point.
“Although a lot of London is owned by people from the largest continent in the world, Asia, it can be Euro-centric.
“I don’t think enough coherent work is being done for Asia, so any hub is good.
“(However) I don’t think anything happens overnight and it’s trying to get engagement and move artists into a different environment and get people to come who are looking at other, similar things around the world.
“What I think is important is to be part of the international debate and visibility.”
Art Select founder and ArtBAB manager Kaneka Subberwal said plans were in place to host the group exhibition on an annual basis.
“International exhibits are very important because it’s a crossover,” she told the GDN.
“London is, of course, a global platform but for any universal platform, be it New York, India or China, I think it’s important that this plethora of talent we have spreads.
“We intend to have an international showcase annually.
“London has been our starting point, so there will always be a connection to London because I don’t think it’s fair to break away either for us, the artists or the city.
“We’re talking about building relationships not stopgaps, but discovering new platforms is as important as cultivating existing platforms.”
The event aimed to celebrate Bahrain’s National Day and commemorate 200 years of Bahraini-British relations.
Participating artists were Somaya Abdulghani, Jamal Abdulrahim, Ahmed Anan, Balqees Fakhro, Mariam Fakhro, Faika Al Hassan, Lulwa Al Khalifa, Marwa Al Khalifa, Nabeela Al Khayer, Ghada Khunji, Aysha Al Moayyed, Abbas Al Mosawi, Maryam Nass, Areej Rajab, Omar Al Rashid, Latifa Al Shakar, Mayasa Al Sowaidi and Zakeya Zada.