Art is more than just a pretty display
There is always a starting point for beautiful worlds and somehow, amid the hustle and bustle of Dubai, the Al Fahidi Historical District seemed like a nostalgic choice venue for hosting the recent Sikka Art Fair, a nine-day festival celebrating the imaginative world of art, poetry, storytelling, music, and film. We arrived around dusk to attend the fair.
Immediately, we felt transported into a magical realm as the area has been enthusiastically adorned with twinkling fairy lights swaying from corner to corner, guiding visitors into its secretive alleys. We stumbled upon an open courtyard where a live band was performing and another courtyard had an open-air cinema with colourful cushions lying around. Each of the tenants held gorgeous, thought-provoking artworks; comic-style depictions of life in Dubai, fusion art collages of the modern versus traditional life, vintage libraries, painting workshops for children, and poetry inked on cloths dangling atop passageways. Truly, every turn was a feast for the eyes. This magical carnival ended with us revelling in the picturesque Arabian Tea House, which serves authentic Emirati cuisine under a lush canopy of fuchsia bougainvillea.
Art is more than just a pretty display. It has always been an essential element of the human experience since time immemorial. Its impact ranges from its intrinsic value of enriching our inner worlds with beautiful, philosophical depths onto adding value to the creative economies, education system, civic society, healthcare system, and community wellbeing. It has played a pivotal role in the creation of timeless cities; adorning them with alluring and iconic architecture, museums, libraries, galleries and theatres.
Perhaps one of art’s most important functions is to enlighten us on a deeper level. In their book Art as Therapy, philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong argue that art is a therapeutic medium through which we could connect with artworks in order to experience or recover important feelings, such as cherishing tender memories, carving time for amusement, dignifying sorrow, understanding ourselves and others, and expanding our emotional landscapes. The book is a fascinating read, which I highly recommend for those interested in finding a way to connect with artworks whilst on a solemn visit to galleries.
Garden of inspiration
We find solace in scattered ways, be it through friendship, music, or nature. Yet few of us would consider retreating to an art gallery in order to uplift our moods. Spending time revelling in exceptional artworks can allow us to experience a vast array of emotions and transport us through the magical mysteries of the ages, all whilst standing where we are.
Published in Gulf News.