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Irthi Brings Traditional Crafts to Sharjah Children Biennial

Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, an affiliate of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, is bringing traditional crafts to young people, at the sixth edition of Sharjah Children Biennial (SCB) held at the Mughaider Children’s Centre for Arts until March 20. The council is organising an all-day weaving activity for 6-18-year-olds, as part of its ‘Hirfati’ youth programme, where the biennial’s young visitors can learn how to create basic weaves, inspired by the traditional Emirarti craft of Talli, using recycled and sustainable threads.

Children are learning the ‘Sayr Yaay’ (traditional Emirati term for going and coming) Talli design, one of the basic weaves that was given this name due to the technique used, where one single silver thread is woven among cotton threads to create the pattern. All the braids that the children make during the biennial will then be woven together by the artisans of the Council’s Bidwa Social Development Programme, to create a mat.

Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council announced the launch of its ‘Hirfati’ youth programme last year, (Arabic for ‘my craft’) under the slogan ‘My Craft… My Future’, to train and engage the next generation of designers and artists through a mix of activities that combine traditional and contemporary crafts. In addition, the Council has helped bring one of the biennial’s inventions to life.

For its 6th edition, the biennial invited children all over the world to draw invention ideas for the future. The most ingenious submissions were selected to be turned into real inventions and prototypes by worldwide professional makers, artists and designers, and displayed at the Biennial’s month-long art exhibition.

Irthi took the idea of 16-year old Saif of a “digital sejada”, a digital prayer mat that counts prostrations, and created a Talli-inspired design that is projected on the mat. Overall, the sixth edition of Sharjah Children Biennial received a total of 3,494 entries from 6-18-year-olds in 13 countries representing 42 nationalities. Of the thousands, just 48 were chosen as finalists, and worked on by a team of designers and artists to bring children’s ideas to life as real inventions and prototypes.

Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA said, “Hirfati fulfills one of Irthi’s key objectives by targeting children and youth, mainly the new generations, to preserve the crafts of the UAE and ensure their sustainability, through enabling young generations to learn, nurture and develop these crafts with innovative ideas and original designs. Sharjah Children Biennial offers an ideal platform for this, given their continuous focus on cultivating children’s creativity and innovation through art.”

She added, “The programme organises a mix of workshops, activities and competitions that combine traditional and contemporary crafts, to stimulate, train and engage the younger generations, as they are our potential designers, artists and craft makers”.

SCB is organised by Sharjah Children, a subsidiary of Rubu’ Qarn Foundation, in collaboration with UK-based global art project Little Inventors, and is being held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Rubu Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders and Innovators.

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