x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Art show for autism awareness launched at Mall of the Emirates

Children's art exhibit highlights autism awareness at gift boutique Tanagra in Mall of the Emirates.

Visitors admire the works of art at the ‘We are all Stars’ exhibition at the Mall of the Emirates. The exhibition displays work by autistic children and has been organised by Dubai Autism Centre and Tanagra. Lee Hoagland / The National
Visitors admire the works of art at the ‘We are all Stars’ exhibition at the Mall of the Emirates. The exhibition displays work by autistic children and has been organised by Dubai Autism Centre and Tanagra. Lee Hoagland / The National

DUBAI // An exhibition of art created by autistic children was launched yesterday at Mall of the Emirates.

The luxury gift boutique Tanagra presented the exhibition at its flagship store in support of the Dubai Autism Centre and to spread understanding of the condition.

Autism is a range of developmental disorders, the effects of which include difficulty with social interaction and communication.

The project, “We are all Stars”, is built around the idea that children will flourish to become stars in their own right, regardless of ability, if given the chance.

The event was inspired by Stephen Wiltshire, a famous British architectural artist who is autistic.

Eighteen children, aged seven to 15, who attend the centre contributed to the exhibition.

“For us, it’s important because people are knowing that these are children with autism that have done this,” said Hayula Mourad, business support and communication unit head at the centre. “So we are highlighting their capabilities and we are talking about autism.

“The more people talk about autism the better it is for parents and for the community in helping accept them.”

The centre and Tanagra worked with the graphic designer and artist Roanne El Alaili and Start – a non-profit organisation founded by Art Dubai - on the project.

Through a drawing workshop, the children sketched gift and decorative works of art from various art de vivre brands found in Tanagra, which is part of the Chalhoub Group.

Their sketches then underwent a rendering and colouring process at the studios of allbymykid, which enhances and transforms children’s drawings into unique works of art.

“It was a very educational process. They were given an object and had to copy it,” Ms Mourad said.

“They were invited to work as a group. They had to interact with the volunteers and with the teachers, who they had never seen before.”

The children’s sketches are displayed alongside the products that inspired them in the exhibition – which is open to the public and runs until the end of the month.

“Through the ‘We are all Stars’ kids’ art exhibition, the relationship between the sketch and the final product is explored in a creative manner through the work of some very special children,” said Florence Bulte, general manager of Chalhoub Group Retail.

Anthony Chalhoub, chief executive of Chalhoub Group, said: “We hope that this project will draw awareness to autism in the region and further help to support the Dubai Autism Centre.”

As part of the launch, a painting, created as a thank you gesture from the children of the centre, was unveiled.

“We thank the Chalhoub Group for coming up with this unique creative initiative to spread the awareness of autism. Our children have similar needs for expression as other neurotypical children. This project not only respects that but also highlights the work of our gifted children,” Ms Mourad said.

ecleland@thenational.ae