Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Some highlights from earlier last week

May 18th-ish
There are countless things I have decided to say yes to- despite not really knowing what would happen, what step to take next, or frankly what I was doing. I am very glad that when the opportunity to work in Kuwait opened very unexpectedly well over a year ago, that I said yes.
I have been able to work through the US Embassy during these two trips to Kuwait, and actively share and work alongside them with the initiatives we are promoting. This morning, Sheikha Altaf and I were able to meet with the cultural affairs department to share the upcoming Weaving Stories exhibition with them. Charles Cole (Counselor for Public Affairs), Nadia Ziyadeh (Cultural Affairs Officer), and Shaimaa Ebrahim (Cultural Affairs Specialist) were gracious and very open to hearing our ideas and share their interest. I find that work the Embassy promotes very valuable and necessary. It allows distinct cultures to collaborate, share common interests, and in our case, find ways to work together for a common goal.

When days start out this well, they only get better.

A stop at the Blocks and Indian Heritage (this deserves its own blog post) then indigo dyeing at the Sadu House for the upcoming Woven Paintings workshop!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

New things happening at Al Sadu House

Al Dowayan's work in the foreground, with Sadu weaving just behind.
I admit I was thinking that I would hit the ground and start writing...but I am days behind!

From Tuesday - It was great to land (although it was 3:30am) and within the next 6 hours,be in one of my favorite places, the Beit Al Sadu. During my last trip to Kuwait in Januray 2015, I was able to be introduced not only to this organization and weaving center, but to Sheikha Altaf Al-Sabah, who has such vision and passion for textiles. Once again, I was surrounded by sadu textiles, eating dates (which is a magic jet lag cure) and meeting once again with an amazing group, including Sheikha Altaf, Shelby Allaho and Manal Al Dowayan.
I felt as though no time passed from my last visit to this one. I was thrilled to walk in and see a work by Manal, titled Sidelines, prominently displayed. Here is a little about the work, in her own words.

"There exists a generation of woman who were, at one point, known artisans among their communities and through the fast paced modernization of Saudi Arabia and the active urbanization of Bedouins, have lost their craft and fallen into poverty. I aim to highlight the unique beauty of their craft but juxtapose it against the neglect that these women have suffered."
A detail of Bisht Better Have My Money by Aziz Al-Humaidhi
Muneera Alsharhan in front of her work for SADI. She is a trained metalsmith but decided to explore a new media through this project.
This was just one of the works from the latest initiative at Al Sadu, called SADI, Sadu Art and Design Initiative. This project was curated by artist Cheyda Oskay. For several months, she met once a week with Kuwait based artists and designers to explore sadu weaving - and as artists, to create new work in response to what they were learning, felt, or discovered. I arrived just in time for the opening that evening, being able to meet many of the artists and hear about their work. In many cases, they explored new media, allowing this initiative to broaden their studio practice.
There are so many great works from the exhibition, but I only seemed to photograph the few you see now. Check out @saduhouse on Instagram for profiles on each artist.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Just landed...

I just landed early this morning to a full day with the Al Sadu House and so many wonderful people. New posts to come in the next few days!
Until then, you can follow me on Instagram @leslirobertson for a little more about the day.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Step by step to new Collaborations and Community

I am excited that over the last month and into the next ones, I will be a part of a collaboration of individuals working to bring a new exhibition and project to Kuwait. One of the most exciting parts of travel is when you meet people along the way (I call them pieces of a puzzle) who end up fitting perfectly together.

The Beit Al Sadu is such a treasure in the middle of Kuwait City. It is composed of an extraordinary group of mostly women, who are actively and passionately working to preserve the tradition and future of Sadu weaving. Led by Sheikha Altaf Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah, a leading scholar on Sadu, this organization continues to think of how to reach more people, get them excited about the tradition of handwoven Sadu, and provide opportunities for the weavers who have been a part of generations artisans who are uniquely skilled to carry on this tradition.

As a part of an outreach opportunity, I am able to continue my relationship with Al Sadu through the Fulbright Specialist program. Again, I will be partnering with Beit Al Sadu on a unique project that marries my interactive textile work with a focus on bringing a new perspective on sadu weaving to the regional community. Through a design partnership with eWOODworking, I will be collaborating with Emad and Shelby Allahoe to develop components for an interactive exhibition based around the woven sadu story.

Emad and Shelby are amazing to work with and have been gracious with their time and skills. We have been able to work across oceans thanks to WhatsApp and Skype. I could not imagine tackling a partnership like this without them. It is wonderful to see such unique skills sets come together to solve problems in order to design and develop something that neither of us had imagined before.

Without giving too much away, this blog will serve to highlight the progress we are making. I hope you enjoy!

 (Always wear gloves, your fingertips will thank you)
In progress images from my studio in Texas and Emad's in Oregon and Kuwait. More the come!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Worth a read

Advanced Weaving class, Fibers Program, College of Visual
Arts and Design, UNT
So after coming back from Kuwait, I found that I thought I knew more about sadu textiles than I actually did. I thought that I was absorbing so much, but when it came down to it, more slide through the cracks in my brain than actually stuck. This was very apparent when I brought some sadu examples to my textile class at UNT. I did not think to refresh on sadu weaving and design terms and realized right then, that I need to dig in some more.


I was given two excellent books while in Kuwait, the first is called Al Sadu: the techniques of Bedouin weaving by Anne-Rhona Crichton (weaving consultant at Sadu House 1983-1988). In it, is an exceptional breakdown of the techniques of creating these warp faced weavings. Crichton takes the main design components of the sadu and visually diagrams each part of how it is made. She makes sure we understand the terms used for each of these design elements and gives drawings for everything!This is a great resource book not only for sadu weaving, but for learning how to create designs on any horizontal or vertical loom.

The second book I was given is written by Sheikha Altaf Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah, the founder and patron of the Al Sadu Society. Ibjad: Ornate tent dividers and weavings of the Kuwait desert is an in depth look that looks at how sadu was used and its relationship to culture, community, and individuality. "Behind every woven piece and textile is a weaver and a story." There are exquisite images of the sadu weavings, a look into the symbolism and descriptive information on the tent dividers. What I really like about this book is that it presents sadu with a reverence - showing the value is this cloth and the importance it holds within Bedouin culture and beyond.

More to come! But until then, I will be brushing up on my terminology!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Some worthwhile videos

Sometimes photos are not enough. Here are a few videos I shot that I thought worthwhile to post.
Hope you get a better sense of Kuwait through them!
An event with the great Kuwaiti organization Spread the Passion at the Modern Art Museum, great band!
The leading of the prize winning sheep - did I mentioned that one of these could buy you a Ferrari! Seriously!
A traditional sword dance at the Heritage Village -
Fabulous work by the Kuwaiti artist Bader Al Mansour - such a creative and prolific artist!
Yet another by Al Mansour. I wish you could hear the music.
A bit of the Arabian Gulf for you all - quite beautiful to see.
A little of my drive every morning through Kuwait - along the Gulf Road
Dar Al  Athar Al Islamiyah (Amricani) Museum - excellent show of Islamic arts from millennia ago - with the added bonus of a music group practicing in the background!
Right outside of the Beit Al Sadu - misting that night with the call to prayer cutting through

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just a few more photos of the intriguing Kuwait!

Outside the Marina Mall

Love the tissue box with SADU!

Add caption

Samir Al Sayegh at Dar Al Funoon Gallery

Just outside the Museum of Modern Art

Luxurious desserts at the Lecture

hummus Carnival anyone?

Figuring out the set of three coffee pots that are now home with me

Gold gold everywhere!

Great food all the time!

Bader art at Becarrels Gallery - will post video soon!

Tea is served!

Sharq Mall

McDonald's delivery scooter!

The Avenues Mall - CRAZY!