ARAB ART MIDDLE EAST SHARJAH ART SPACES
The Maraya Art Centre is located in the heart of Sharjah in Al-Qasba, a city that is rising as a Middle Eastern cultural center. This institution is the product of collaborative efforts to create a place where contemporary Arab art can bloom.
As one step towards this goal, Crown Prince Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qassimi opened the eminent Barjeel Art Foundation. And this Foundation is housed on the second floor of where else but the Maraya Art Centre, a part of its three-storey, 1500-square-metre space dedicated solely to art.
The building that now houses the Maraya Art Centre used to house art galleries on its first and third floors and office spaces on its second floor. Now everything is dedicated to the production and promotion of art. The first, second, and third floors of the Centre accommodate three different facets of contemporary art from the region with each having a unique theme built into the custom display and functional spaces.
The first floor features the Sharjah branch of Shelter, and is one of two multimedia community art spaces that aim to be a hub for networking, workshops and other creative practices. The first branch of Shelter is in Dubai and although both branches are similar, the Sharjah space will focus more on education and the arts. Aside from a café and a library, the Shelter also provides a venue for film screenings, launches and exhibitions and provides facilities to encourage creative entrepreneurs. Guests are also given information regarding training programs, regional conferences and other avenues that help individuals to collaborate.
On the second level is the House of Arab Art, a permanent exhibition which features the artworks of prominent artists from different parts of the Middle East including Iraq, Iran, Palestine and Lebanon. Works from the Barjeel Art Foundation can also be found on the second floor, with some artworks supplied from His Highness Sultan Bin Sooud Al-Qassemi’s personal collection of over 200 pieces.
Rotating exhibitions have found space on the third (and top) floor of the Centre in the Contemporary Art Gallery. This gallery aims to push the meaning of “contemporary” and “art” by including displays of digital, multimedia, and experimental art. The gallery is carefully arranged to accommodate installation work and other artworks that are not wall-mounted. For its inauguration, the gallery showcased works by the winners of the 2009 Abraaj Art Capital Prize.
In an article on GulfNews.com, Chief Executive of Al Qasba Development Authority, Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal said in a press conference that “the ultimate goal [of the Centre] is to nourish young talent and sustain a local platform for established artists to flourish within the region.” He further adds that the Maraya Art Centre is positioned to be one of the largest and most fashionable venues for contemporary art in the UAE.
In line with the intention of providing only a quality art experience, the Maraya Art Centre has also pursued alliances with several organisations such as the UAE Art Archive, Sharjah Art Foundation and Sharjah Cultural Department.
- Need an introduction to modern Arab art? Mathaf opens December – November 2010 – Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art to be opened in Doha
- First time for Afghanistani, Kyrgyz and Iraqi artists in Sovereign Asian Art Prize finalist line-up – November 2010 – Middle East artists chosen as first time Sovereign Asian Art Prize finalists
- Sheikh Sultan opens private collection to public putting Sharjah on the UAE art map – August 2010 – Sheikh Sultan opens the Barjeel Art Foundation
- Where is the Sharjah Art Museum heading? – Manal Ataya, Sharjah Museums director – June 2009 – The Art Newspaper publishes an interview with Sharjah Museum director
- Abu Dhabi’s Venice Biennale curator Catherine David says only 6 interesting artists from Emirates, whom will she show? – January 2009 – curator chooses artists for Biennale show