x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Children with special needs are the stars of a new art show

Salsali Private Gallery presents a selection of work from pupils at Manzil school in Sharjah.

10-year-old Fuad Mahmood's painting of the moon.
10-year-old Fuad Mahmood's painting of the moon.

It's refreshing to hear an artist describe their work in frank and honest words: "The yellow is a bridge, a happy bridge across the sea that leads to happiness," says 14-year-old Abdul Kader Al Halabi. "But we all walk on the red and black pavement, we are safe but sad on this road."

This is just one of the intuitive commentaries on work by the young artists who attend Manzil, a school in Sharjah for young people with special needs.

Al Halabi suffers from epilepsy, while some of his classmates and fellow painters have cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome or autism.

Conversations is a collection of works, by 29 artists, which shows off their experimentations with colour and shape on canvas during sessions at Manzil. The work is currently on display at Salsali Private Museum in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, before a silent auction takes place on Monday, with all proceeds going towards the continuing efforts of Manzil.

The school operates a five-days-a-week service for children and young adults, offering them an artistic outlet. This is acutely helpful for those with speech or hearing impairments, as it presents a creative and engaging way for them to express themselves. The insightful descriptions of their works bring these pieces to life.

One of the most impressive works here is a painting of the moon illuminating the night sky over a black sea. The sharp line of the horizon, and the detail of the tumultuous waves - created by 10-year-old Fuad Mahmood, who Manzil describes as "a genius on computers" - really build to an exceptional piece.

Conversations continues at Salsali Private Museum until June 5. The silent auction on Monday starts at 7pm. Visit www.salsalipm.com for more details. For more info on Manzil, visit www.manzil.ae