National Gallery hosts ‘Psykura’ art exhibition

The Maldives National Art Gallery has this week hosted the Psykura art exhibition, showcasing the work of local artists. The exhibition was staged by Maldivian Psychedelic Arts and The Underground Movement, in association with Location Maldives.

The exhibition, open since Wednesday (September 11) seeks to educate and inspire its visitors to understand the value of freedom of expression.

“Besides multiple meanings of the word Psykura, it is meant to define the creative impulses of our psyche that bubbles and steams by the influence of the environment or the society. This natural need to express is via art. The universal language that transcends spoken language or where you are from,” the event’s organisers have explained.

“Freedom of creative expression must not be restricted if we are to prosper as a nation. Maldives needs to recognize the creative potential of its people by offering them the opportunities in order to increase local productivity.”

The exhibition will close this evening, with a live performance by Mariyam Athif at 7pm tonight (September 14).

See pictures of the exhibition here.


Exhibition gives voice to abused, neglected and abandoned children

Among the black and white images on display was a picture of a hoisted national flag, captured by a six year old boy who dreams to become a policeman. This was one picture among the 41 images showed at the photo exhibition “Me through my lens”  – which provides the first glimpse into the life of abused, neglected and abandoned children living at the state orphanage “Kudakudhinge Hiyaa” in Villigili Island.

The two-day photo exhibition open from 10:00am to 10:00pm is organised by two friends; photographer Hussain Sinan and Dr Aishath Saistha Rasheed, a paediatrician at IGMH- who have started a voluntary movement called “Voices” to help the children at the orphanage.

Speaking to Minivan News Dr Shaistha said that the photo exhibition is the “beginning of a series of events to help the children build their skills”.

According to Shaisthaa, all the basic needs of the children like food, shelter and clothing are fulfilled, but the children lacked the opportunity to harness their talents and skills.

“When we were young, our parents worked really hard to build our skills. But the children at the orphanage don’t have this opportunity. So we decided to help by starting to teach them photography,” Dr Shaisthaa said.

Under the initiative, a team of professional photographers taught the children the basics of photography. The children were then gifted disposable cameras and encouraged to take photos, out of which the best were displayed at the photo exhibition launched by President Mohamed Nasheed on Sunday night.

She noted that people often identified the children at Hiyaa as abused or victims. “But we wanted to show that is not what defines them,” she said.

“Even these children have skills. Just like any children at their age, they wish for small things that bring them joy.”

She noted that the money raised through the exhibition will be invested to run more skill-building programs involving sports, creative writing and art.

According to the other organiser Sinan, 35 out of 41 photos exhibited at the gallery had now been sold for Rf 500 each. He also added that for every donation above Rf 199, a calendar with photos of children will also be gifted.

“We didn’t get the details on the past of these children. But these pictures tell their story. They have brought up what they feel through these pictures,” Sinan said.

Dr Shaistha and Sinan urged the public to help the children at the orphanage. “There are just 55 kids at Kudakudhinge Hiyaa. I am sure we can find 55 people who are willing to help these children, to make a difference in their lives”.

The exhibition provides enough incentive for those seeking the motivation to lend a hand to the abused, neglected and abandoned children.

The exhibition will be shown at the National Art Gallery until 10pm, December 20.


Puducherry Blue: around South Asia in 32 artworks

A collection of works by artists from across SAARC’s nine member countries has gone on display at Male’s National Art Gallery, ahead of the 17th SAARC summit to be held in Addu City later this year.

The Puducherry Blue exhibition, which will run at the gallery until June 12 2011, aims to bring together various works from South Asian artists that were produced at an arts camp held in Puducherry, India, in 2010.

The collection presents a combination of various techniques; from more impressionist captures of national life such as Shwa in Tein Pagoda by Myanmar’s Kyaw Shein, to more contemporary takes on regional art – such as in the output of India’s R Balu, whose Timeproof exhibit does away with the conventional paint on canvas approach entirely.

The sole Maldivian work in the exhibition is provided by artist Mariyam Omar, whose work ‘Epiphany’ teases at traditional images of Maldivian dancing seemingly obscured by somewhat more contemporary artistic techniques – or liberal splashings of paint depending on one’s own viewpoint.

Speaking during the event’s Male’ opening, the Maldives’ Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Mariyam Zulfa said that it was an honour for the country to host the exhibition, which has already toured a number of other SAARC nations.

“I am very delighted to have some of the artists here today who have travelled all this way to take part in this exhibition,” she said. “I’m sure if we can get ourselves organised we can take some of your works that we see here tonight for the SAARC summit that is being held in Addu City later this year. It will be our pride and joy to display these works at the [summit].”

Beyond the aesthetic value of the exhibition itself, Zulfa said she hoped the regional collaboration behind the exhibition would lead to wider number of events taking place at the gallery in a bid to inspire and develop local artists in the country.

“Hopefully, we can get the art community here a little more organised and learn a lot from your own experiences in the field of art,” she told those in attendance.

The exhibition has been arranged in collaboration with the High Commission of India in Male’, which has backed a number of arts projects in the country, including an arts camp earlier this year that saw a number of local and Indian artists gathering in Gan, Addu Atoll.

Indian High Commissioner Dnyaneshwar Mulay said at the exhibition launch that he believed that bringing together artists from across the region served to highlight the importance of connectivity between the  SAARC nations as well as the role that art plays in it.

“[Art] makes you think about what is the true meaning of life. Why do we have this urge to connect with people? Why do we paint for example? That is its beauty,” he said.

The Puducherry Blue exhibition will remain on display at Male’ National Art Gallery until June 12. More information is available through the National Gallery on 331 0729.


“Pictures paint a thousand words” for tsunami exhibition curator

A collection of children’s drawings and photographs depicting Maldivian perceptions of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami have been unveiled as part of the first exhibition to be hosted at Male’s new National Gallery building, six years to the day that large swathes of South Asia were hit by the devastating waves.

The exhibition is called Drawing the Wave, which combines photographic images with drawings provided by school children from a number of islands on how they remembered the tsunami.

Amidst canvases of bright crayon illustrations depicting cartoon-like trees and vivid wavy blue lines devouring football pitches, houses and even stick-like drawings of people, questions and phrases are written that are said to have expressed the fears of young people across Meedhoo, Madifushi and Buruni; three islands badly hit by the tsunami.

“Are we a sinking nation?”, “We lost our school. We lost our future. Someone lost their parent” and “Don’t we deserve something better?” are just some of the phrases written upon the images drawn up by students in the eighth and ninth grades back in 2005, based on their experiences of surviving the tsunami.

These writings, according to exhibition curator Ragni Afeef, powerfully reflected concerns about the Tsunami from the experiences of children that have lived through the waves.

“There are three or four drawings created by students in grade eight or nine that contained writing that is very moving,” she said, talking of how the words belied the child-like images on display. “They were teenagers at the time, teenagers who had seen computers at their school destroyed and were unable to sit exams. They were frustrated on another level entirely.”

The exhibition, which was opened yesterday evening in the presence of President Mohamed Nasheed and a number of other guests such as the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Mariyam Zulfa, is expected to remain at the National Gallery for two weeks. It has previously been shown at venues across Norway, from where Afeef is originally from.

“These drawings have travelled a long way,” said the curator during the exhibition’s opening.

Afeef told Minivan News, that she had also contributed a number of photographs to the exhibition of sandals and footwear found discarded and partly destroyed in February 2005, two months after the Tsunami had struck.

During this period, Afeef visited a number of beaches that had been struck by the Tsunami, many of which she had said had been “littered with the footwear” during the devastation.

“I wondered to who did they belong? What is their story,” she said.

Speaking during the exhibition opening, Afeef said that despite the childlike contents of the images, when it came to the seriousness of the content, she believed in the old adage that “a picture can paint a thousand words”.

“This is the first exhibition in the new National Gallery,” she said. “A museum can help explain to a world what it means to be human.”

With the artwork now back in the Maldives, Afeef claimed that she had come “full circle” with the exhibition and was at “the end of this particular journey”, despite her hopes that the government may take the exhibition to the three islands where the art originated from.

However, Afeef claimed that she hoped to fulfill a longstanding plan to return to the islands and try and see how life had changed at the rebuilt schools, “perhaps in a year or so”.

While remaining in touch with a teacher from Meedhoo who helped compile the work shown in the exhibition, Afeef said she had not been able to remain in contact with the children whose work now provided an account of a major moment in Maldivian history for a global audience.

However, as part of what the curator saw as a positive legacy of the exhibition, she claimed that the exhibition had led to collections in Norway that had raised money to provide computers for a future generation of school children in the Maldives.

The Drawing the Wave exhibition is expected to remain on display at Male’ National Art Gallery for the next two weeks. More information is available through the National Gallery on 3310729.