x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Gallery to raise funds for African orphans

Emirati artists commissioned to paint artworks inspired by photographs taken by orphans in Lesotho.

DUBAI // A gallery will showcase Emirati artwork while raising money for orphans in Africa when it opens in April.

The Ara Gallery this month commissioned six local artists to create pieces inspired by photographs taken by orphans and needy children in a Habitat for Humanity youth-housing programme in Lesotho.

It will hold an auction on its opening night with all proceeds going to the US-based non-profit organisation. It will also donate 2.5 per cent of any future art sales to the cause.

Habitat for Humanity had arranged for the children to take the photographs on disposable cameras, then sent the 1,000-plus images to Dubai.

"We are so excited to share the children's pictures, the artists' interpretations and most importantly, to raise some much-needed funds for such a worthwhile cause," said the gallery founder Moza Mohamed al Abbar.

The Ara Gallery chose to support Lesotho based on Habitat for Humanity's suggestion and the high percentage of orphaned children there. The small southern African nation is home to more than 200,000 vulnerable youths.

The artists, chosen from 20 applicants, gathered last week to talk to Habitat for Humanity representatives by phone and look through the photographs. Many featured the children's caretakers or homes.

Saeed al Madani, 24, said he hoped to reflect the sadness in some of the pictures. "These are the ones I connected with the most," he said.

Saeed Khalifa, 21, said he took 120 photos home with him.

"The images were very beautiful and they were very, very honest," he said.

"You keep thinking, if these children had a bigger chance, what would they be able to do?" he said. "I love these images, and I hope to do them justice."