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Sara Al Haddad, above, says her residency should inspire different creations. Jaime Puebla / The National
Sara Al Haddad, above, says her residency should inspire different creations. Jaime Puebla / The National

Sara Al Haddad links past and present at Ductac

The Emirati artist Sara Al Haddad plans to work with embroidery, crochet, yarn fibers and wire during her month-long residency at Ductac's Gallery of Light.

Sara Al Haddad was previously shortlisted for the Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award and was a finalist in the New Era Introducing Competition last year, and her in-house work at Ductac will be on display to the public from mid-January next year. The programme helps promote and develop opportunities for under-represented artists and curators in the region.

Previous residents include the English painter and video artist Simon Coates, the Ethiopian printmaker Ephrem Solomon, the Emirati painter and sculptor Khawla Darwish and the German-Egyptian artist Mona Fares.

How did you first become involved in the Gallery of Light's Artist Residency initiative?

Rabi Georges, who works at the gallery, had seen some of my work and asked if I'd be interested in applying for the residency. To apply, I submitted images of my work, a resumé, artist's statement and descriptions of two workshops that I would propose running during the residency. The selection committee obviously liked what they saw. Simon Coates, who is Ductac's full-time artist in residence, will be mentoring me during my time there. To have his support and advice will add so much to my experience; ecstatic is an understatement.

What will an average day during your residency be like?

Having a studio space will allow me to settle in and create a personal productive area away from home, where I usually create my art.

Different and new surroundings allow for different kinds of inspirations, which becomes a key element while creating artworks. As I find my own pace and familiarise myself with the space, the creation process kicks off. It is important to have all the tools and materials needed at hand because it helps keep the working process in motion and undisturbed.

The first two hours of work are critical since they set the productivity level for the rest of the day. A productive day consists of four to eight-plus hours of work. And besides acting as a studio, the gallery space prompts an interactive environment. People are more than welcome to pass by, whether to observe or ask any questions about my working process.

What do the pieces in the collection you're working on look like?

I am planning on working with different techniques and materials, including but not limited to embroidery and crochet, while using yarn fibres and wire. The new body of work will be an intertwined series connecting different media under a unified theme.

The colour pink will be vivid. It has become an important element in my works, reflecting a self-empowered state rather than its loose but widely used "girlie" connotation.

Are you highlighting any specific social, political or personal issues in this body of work?

My works are inspired by personal experiences. They portray my way of dealing with emotions. Through my interactions with others I become more aware of my feelings, which acts in retrospect as a further understanding of myself.

In this series of artworks, I will be focusing on moving forward, letting go of memories and emotions of the past. The works will act as a transitional point and will be a reflection of my way of dealing with the emotions carried out by past experiences, whether happy or not, and bring about a sphere for new memories to form.

Describe your overall style as an artist. How are you best summed up?

Opinionated and highly driven by inner emotions with a mission to create thought-provoking artwork that touches lightly on the concept of feminism.

Textiles have always given me a sense of belonging. They give me comfort, keep me warm and calm. Yarn fibres allow me to transcend my emotions and transform them into an embodiment, a form.

Do you believe enough is being done to preserve traditional Emirati crafts? If not, what more would you like to see done?

The Emirati culture is rich with traditional crafts, which were mostly used in the past. Sadly, it has not been carried to our generation and is starting to lose its essence in the midst of this new era of technology and modernisation. The Heritage Village is one of the best places to visit and develop a better understanding of Emirati culture and how crafts were used in the past. I believe preserving such crafts can go beyond art classes and workshops, where the use of handmade and crafts is encouraged. It can also be involved within the social studies curriculum in schools.

Will your pieces be available for the public to buy?

I am keeping an open mind and won't be limiting myself from the possibility of selling the pieces, but it is too early to tell.


The public is invited to visit Al Haddad in residence at the Gallery of Light, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, from 10am to 6pm, Sunday to Thursday until the end of December. Her art will be displayed from January 15 to 22. Visit www.ductac.org or call 04 341 4777 for details

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