The Fire Station's Artist in Residency (AIR) programme has witnessed remarkable growth and transformation over the years, culminating in the ongoing exhibition, “The Present: The Future of the Past”, curator Saida al-Khulaifi said.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the press preview recently, she shed light on the programme's evolution and the exceptional diversity and innovation displayed by resident artists.
Al-Khulaifi said the platform has developed highly from its inception until today, citing more mentorship, studio critique, roundtable discussions, and encouragement for artists to engage in dialogue and be receptive to criticism.
“The artists are very keen because the art scene in Doha is growing and there are more artists coming up every day,” al-Khulaifi observed, noting that artists in Qatar are enthusiastic and focused on crafting distinct and unique pieces, pushing their boundaries to present their best work.
With a diverse array of artworks showcased at the exhibition, she pointed out that the AIR programme always encouraged artists to be unique and experimental, to think outside the box, to try different mediums and different materials, and something that they have never worked with before.
“So hence, they (artists) push themselves and try, whether it's their own medium or others, sometimes their works were smaller and now they've done something bigger,” the curator said.
According to the Fire Station, “The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition encompasses artworks by 31 accomplished alumni from QM’s AIR programme during the residencies of 2021-2022 (AIR 6) and 2022-2023 (AIR 7).
The show provides visitors with a window into the inner workings of artists’ studios and their distinctive creative processes, spanning from initial concept to final realisation. The result is a collection of thought-provoking artworks crafted in a diverse range of artistic media.
The artists featured in this exhibition are: Abdulaziz Yousef, Abdulrahman Almuftah, Arman Mansouri, Aya Battiri, Charlene Kasdorf, Fatima Javed, Hind Alobaidli, Lucy Martin, Noor Alkharaan, N&LS, Sharefa al-Mannai, Simon Mortimer, Yousef Fakhroo, Amna Almuftah, Abdulrahman al-Thani, Voyyyd, Abir Zakzouk, Ali al-Naama, Farah al-Sidiky, Fatima al-Yousef, Hazim Hussain, Hemanth Madupu, Johnatan Machado, Mohammed Abdullah Alhamadi, Luke Webb, Maha al-Sulaiti, Noof al-Theyab, Noor al-Kuwari, Sarah Jayyousi, Sheikha al-Khulaifi, and Wadha al-Mesalam.
Al-Khulaifi noted that the Fire Station offers state-of-the-art facilities, including a digital fabrication lab and workshop, which empower artists to create unique and groundbreaking pieces.
“They (artists) have taken advantage of our facilities that we have here, our digital fabrication lab, and our workshop, a lot of the pieces here have at least, some of them, one to two elements, some of them were completely produced here,” she said, noting that the artists have helped each other a lot whether it is AIR 6 or 7.
Al-Khulaifi attributed the growth of the art scene in Doha to government initiatives and private-sector support. Qatar Museums, she stressed, played a key role in nurturing local talent through programmes like the Fire Station's AIR, as well as several other public art initiatives.
About the upcoming Expo 2023 Doha at the Al Bidda Park, she said “The Present: The Future of the Past” exhibition, which will run until December 16 located across the Fire Station's Garage Gallery, Gallery 3, and Gallery 4, is open to the public at no cost. However, visitors are encouraged to reserve their tickets online as a means of tracking attendance.
As the art scene in Qatar continues to expand, al-Khulaifi reiterated that the Fire Station's AIR programme remains at the forefront of nurturing talent and fostering innovation.