Meandering through the streets of Education City, the art around the campus is almost impossible to miss. Gleaming in the sun in front of the Biznest building (Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar) is the Malwiya artwork by Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani, founder of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, which illustrates a form of currency that was once used in the Gulf countries. Meanwhile, across the road in the North Campus, Sidra Medicine is lined with sculptures that chronicle the miraculous journey from conception to birth, designed by Damien Hirst.
Art in Education City goes further than just taking the form of installations – it serves as a pathway for informal learning, encouraging people to engage in conversations that are about more than just the piece of art itself. Art can describe the history and culture of a country, the heritage of its people, and the significance of their identities. One example of this is the Al-Hareth piece by Abdallah Akar in Sidra Medicine, which represents one of the suspended poems that dates back to pre-Islamic Arabia. In the same way, the Endless IV by Jaume Plensa in the 2015 building (QF Headquarters) reflects the importance of language to communication and dialogue through displaying the diversity of alphabets in the sculpture’s body.
Qatar Foundation’s (QF) art scene also extends to temporary exhibitions within the campus and permanent galleries at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, paintings and art pieces in the buildings around Education City, talks and conferences, and guided Art Trail tours.
And the newest addition to QF’s flourishing art landscape is the Seeroo fi al Ardh installation by world-renowned artist Maqbool Fida Husain. The installation pays tribute to humankind’s spirit of innovation, bringing together elements that combine to tell the unique story of human progress through the times. A wall made of trencadis – mosaic created from broken tile shard – forms the backdrop to the installation, while at its forefront are elements that Husain felt best embodied man’s journey to discovering the wonders of the world. These include life size horses made out of Murano glass, vintage cars, a sculpture of Abbas Ibn Firnas (flying man), and a replica of Da Vinci’s flying machine.
Through the Seero fi al Ardh, Husain invites us to discover a piece of art that was the culmination of his life’s work, reflecting his identity as both a Muslim and an artist.
Having a culture of art is crucial to the development of any country. By bringing different artwork and artists of diverse cultures and from all around the world to Qatar, QF is helping the local art scene thrive.
Located near Al Shaqab in Education City, the Seero fi al Ardh installation will be open to the public in 2020. I can’t wait for more of you to see the legendary Hussain’s final piece!
Layla I. Bacha, Senior Art Specialist, QF.