x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Learning meets creativity at summer camp

We visit the summer art camp for kids at Ductac.

Eissa Al Mulla at the DUCTAC summer art classes. Duncan Chard for the National
Eissa Al Mulla at the DUCTAC summer art classes. Duncan Chard for the National

With an endearing blue paint smudge on the end of his nose and his locks of curly hair bouncing as he excitedly brandishes his picture of a colourful underwater scene, Eissa Al Mulla is certainly happy with the way his summer is going.

It is the second day of a five-week summer art camp at Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (Ductac) and the 7-year-old is emphatic. "I like it here much more than school," he grins. "At school we get to do art for half an hour once a week. Here it is three hours a day and I love it."

Camping out

The schedule of the summer camp follows a simple formula. Each morning at 10am, 45 children from ages 6 to 11 are presented with a 30-minute talk relevant to the subject of each week's theme. They are then divided into three groups according to age and rotate through workshops covering pottery, painting and arts and crafts.

"It is designed to be fun and engaging," explains Rabi Georges, an art co-ordinator at Ductac. "But we have woven in an educational thread so that the children actually get something useful out of it."

Under the sea and beyond

The first week featured presentations from the Emirates Diving Association and the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project. Following the theme of the underwater environment, the children painted sea scenes, made cardboard turtle shells to wear on their backs and crafted sea creatures from clay. Themes for the rest of the course include desert ecology, costume design and how music can inspire art.

"It is never too early to begin art education," says Georges. "It can even start as young as a baby because when we are young our sensibilities and synapses are most receptive."

Outside the classroom

Although the summer camps are a fun place and the atmosphere is filled with laughter, Georges, who is a German artist of Syrian origin, says there is a serious side. "Extra-curricular activities are so important, especially here in the UAE. In my opinion the standard of art coming out of institutions here is lower than I am used to in Europe, so we need to stimulate the children to think about creativity at every chance we have.

"Personally, it is an interest of mine to pass on my knowledge about how to see and to understand art. It starts with fun but it could lead to a serious career eventually."

Time for teenagers

To complement the children's camp, Ductac is also hosting a summer camp for teenagers ages 12 to 16. The two-week course, which began yesterday, will teach the teenagers weaving and pottery taking inspiration from modern artists.

For more information, call 04 341 4777 or visit www.ductac.org


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