“A key part of our Foundation’s mission is to support the growth of the entire arts and cultural ecosystem of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.” Her Highness Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan
It’s all been a bit arty in the capital in recent weeks, first the Abu Dhabi Art fair took up its annual residence at Manarat Al Saadiyat and Warehouse421, a new hub for art, culture and creativity opened in Mina Zayed, the port district of Abu Dhabi.
Free to the public, Warehouse421 was something completely new in Abu Dhabi, I felt like I was in a trendy district of London or New York as the venue had been converted from two of the port’s former industrial warehouses. Warehouse421’s mission is to celebrate art and culture, design and creativity from local UAE artists and designers as well as showcasing other creatives from around the globe, combined with performance and music on the Mina Beats stage.
Four exhibitions were on show in the unique and original urban space under the theme ‘Explore Your World,’ representing memory and transformation through objects such as old cameras, telephones and typewriters displayed next to the latest technology. Interactive creative workshops, live musical performances and urban dance acts completed the line-up. The creative market featured twenty-two artisans with their designer accessories, fashion, and interiors in converted cargo crates like those at BoxPark London and more recently in Dubai. Street food trucks in pop-up gardens offered a range of international cuisines from local favourites such as SALT burgers and Meylas, I had a fabulous pizza and the teenager tried out the mexican which she gave rave reviews, the fresh coconuts were good too.
The exhibitions included Lest We Forget: Emirati Family Photographs 1950-1999 which presented narrative and day-to-day family images captured by the first generation of Emiratis, Mina Zayed: Through The Lens of Jack Burlot, was a colourful photographic exhibit by the French photographer Burlot, an insight and celebration of daily life in the city’s port area. 1:100 explored the theme of the warehouse conversions in a three dimensional way.
In an additional warehouse, a selection of works from the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship entitled Art: Process & Practice highlighting the creative process of making art, from inception to completion and subsequent exhibition.
The inaugural weekend also saw artists and design professionals hold Interactive workshops that offered educational experiences and insights into their creative processes. A print-making workshop with Mix & Match Abu Dhabi, contemporary doll making with the founder of Vinny Dolls in the Draw & Stitch group and Zellij, which practised the traditional arts and crafts of the Islamic through tile-making techniques from the artisans in Morocco. Little Artists had a dedicated area for arts and crafts such as clay modeling, basket, paper weaving and other activities.
The hub has been developed by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan. The foundation supports the growth of the arts and cultural sector in the UAE.
The initial opening was for three days but I hope this innovative space will hold more exciting exhibitions in the future, it had a great vibe and attracted lots of curious visitors over the course of the three days. I even went twice, once at night with the other half and again in daylight accompanied by the teenager, albeit she was bribed with the promise of Mexican street food. It was fantastic to see the reinvention of these historic warehouse buildings used in such an exciting way, I’m looking forward to the next event already.
Find more information on Warehouse421
All the views are my own. Unless otherwise stated all photos on this page copyright Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Photo 3 from the Mina Zayed: Through The Lens of Jack Burlot exhibit used courtesy of www.warehouse421.ae