HE Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) Chairperson, and Engineer Nasser al-Mawlawi, president of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), yesterday visited one of the new tunnels on Salwa Road, where French-Tunisian graffiti artist, eL Seed, has finished working on some of the murals within the “calligraffiti” murals project.
QMA’s Public Art Department and the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) commissioned eL Seed to embellish four underground tunnels on Salwa Road.
The artist arrived in Doha earlier this month and started a four-month “calligraffiti” murals project as part of the Salwa Road project, which is a significant upgrade to the existing road. Each of the 52 large-scale murals will feature different and unique themes inspired by anecdotes from Qatari culture and markers of Qatari life. This project will draw as well on el Seed’s interest in Arabic calligraphy fused with contemporary street art, which he refers to as “calligraffiti.”
The murals in the first tunnel follow the “Liquid Alphabet” calligraffiti style and touch on the national theme. eL Seed uses this style to construct calligraphy writings on top of each other giving the impression of travelling calligraphies. In this series of murals, some of the calligraphy writings are verses from the National Anthem of Qatar including the ones that translate in English as “Travel the high road; Travel by the guiding light of the Prophets” and “Doves they can be at times of peace, Warriors they are at times of sacrifice”.
Jean Paul Engelen, director of Public Art at Qatar Museums Authority, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Ashghal on this creative project that will change people’s perception of street art. We believe that through Arabic calligraphy and authentic, culture-specific themes in creating the murals, eL Seed will help the Qatari community accept and admire unconventional graffiti artwork. It is great to see so many volunteers from Qatar and other nationalities participating in this project. If people are interested to join or follow the project they can find all the details on the website www.elseedindoha.com”
Engineer al- Mawlawi said: “In collaboration with Qatar Museums Authority, Calligraffiti paintings at one of the country’s major infrastructure projects reiterates Ashghal’s endeavour to promote Qatari heritage, traditions and culture. We greatly appreciate the support of HE Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Qatar Museums Authority for partnering with Ashghal to showcase Arabic calligraphy art through our project and we look forward to integrating more such artistic initiatives to reinforce the cultural fabric of Qatar.”
The Salwa Road project, which includes an extensive upgrade of the existing Salwa Road, will deliver approximately 7km of dual carriageway road along the alignment of the existing road. The mainline will feature 8 lanes, four lanes in each direction separated by a median with continuous service roads.
Salwa Road project is an integral part of Ashghal’s Expressway programme, which is a nationwide road infrastructure programme.
Talking to Gulf Times, eL-Seed said that the project is among the largest in his career and expressed his excitement at being in Doha undertaking such a massive task. He pointed out that he draws on themes and subjects that come from the local life, history and heritage that can both engage and educate people.
“I want to make murals that speak to the people as they can speak to me. What I do is to study the related issues carefully and try to reflect them accordingly. It is a collaborative relation involvimg me, the surroundings, people and the work of art to make it dynamic and vivid.”
“The reason we have chosen eL Seed is that he incorporates the modern with the traditional to introduce new forms of arts to the public as part of an educational plan on the country’s heritage,” said Khalid Ali, the project manger from Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).
He explained that the new road has four underpasses and every one of them will be decorated with a different theme of local interest in different shapes and forms.
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