By Mudassir Raja
The hostile weather and challenging conditions could not dampen the buoyant spirit of sand artists as they recently attended a five-day-long art competition near Sealine Beach Resort.
The first of its kind sand art competition, organised by Visual Arts Center, was won by a Filipino artist, who is an interior designer by profession. As many as 20 artistes from different nationalities – including visiting artists from Oman and Kuwait – took part in the competition that saw first four prizes going to the sand sculptures and the fifth and other prizes going to contestants in the drawings.
According to the organisers, the art event turned the shores of Qatar into an open museum. On the sidelines of the competition, there were art workshops attended by talented children and their families. The competition turned into a kind of sand art festival for visitors.
The sand competitions are a rarity in Arab countries.
There are, however, different individual artists who show their dexterities on the shores of different Middle Eastern countries.
Qatar is considered the first country in the region to organise such a kind of competition. The organisers intend to plan a bigger competition on an international scale from next year after witnessing the success and popularity of the contest.
In a sanguine prize distributing ceremony, Hamad al-Zekaiba, Director of the Culture and Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, honoured the winners of the competition with medals and cash rewards. He expressed his immense pleasure over the success of the art competition.
Michael Conjusta, Filipino artist, won the first prize for his sculptor showing traditional and modern architectures of Doha. He was rewarded with QR25,000
While a group of artists namely, Seyyedeh Somayeh Hosseini, from Iran, Israa Abouchanab and Alissar Abouchanab, from Lebanon, earned second place. The amount for the second prize was QR15, 000. The third place went to the Indian artist Kotteeswari Mahesh.
The artist received QR10, 000. Qatari artist Mubarak al-Malik stood fourth.
Another Qatari artist Jaber Hamad al-Hanzab stood fifth. Each of them received QR5, 000.
Speaking on the occasion, Salman al-Malik, Director of the Center for Visual Arts, described the turnout as “remarkable,” as it achieved great interaction from the artists and the talents, who participated in the accompanying workshops.
Al-Malik thanked all the participating artists. “This response reflects the firm desire to practise in such arts, drawings on the beach, or preparing sculptures on it. We made sure to have the motto – art for all. We also ensured the spreading of visual excitement in the community and making the shores of Qatar an open museum.”
He continued: “The effort has effectively achieved the vision of the Ministry of Culture and Sports – working towards a community conscious and genuine love for arts. It has sought to achieve the strategic objectives of the Center to support artists and nurture and embrace the companions.”
About the awards jury, he said: “We relied on the composition of the artists and experts, ensuring the awards go to those who deserve them. It has enhanced the objectivity of the competition that accompanied the cash awards.”
On one hand, the winners were very pleased to participate in the event, the first of its kind in Qatar. They also appreciated the vision of the centre for introducing a new competition in Qatar.
Michael, who has been living in Qatar for 21 years, considered himself very fortunate to take part in the competition and to win the first prize. “At one point of time, I became hopeless. I was not able to complete my sculptor named ‘Traditional and Modern Doha.’ The weather was very unfriendly for me to create the sand sculptor. There was intermittent rain and strong winds creating hurdles for me. I worked from 10am to 5pm for two days piling up sand and making it wet with water. Third day I started making my sculptor. On fourth day, there were rains and strong winds that destroyed my unfinished work.
On the fifth day, I told the organisers that I could not complete as still there was rain. However, on the insistence of the organisers and some of my friends, I reached at the site at 3pm and resumed my work. They gave two extra hours to complete my work and I got first prize for that.
“First of all I am thankful to MAPS International, a group of artists, for letting me know about the competition.
Secondly, I appreciate the Center for giving the artists an opportunity to win some prizes. I was in need of money and I won it.”
Rashmi Agarwal, Chairperson of MAPS International, said: “I am very happy that two of our group members got good prizes. Kotteeswari Mahesh is also a member of MAPS. Such competitions are definitely encouraging for the artist communities in Qatar. The ministry owes an appreciation.”
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