European Craft Exhibition 2019
European Craft Exhibition
The venue chosen for the 2019 European Craft Exhibition was the Kuwait National Museum. The event was held during the 25th Qrain Cultural Festival and took place between the 15th and 20th of January. The exhibition was organised by the World Craft Council Asia Pacific Region (WCC-APR), in collaboration with The National Council for Culture, Arts & Letters (NCCAL) and hosted by the Government of Kuwait. Fifteen artists and craftsmen and women from across Europe were each selected to represent their country. Alongside the representatives from Europe who were exhibiting were six craftsmen and women from the Middle East.
The European Craft Exhibition was the brainchild of Dr Ghada Hijjawi-Qaddumi, President of the WCC-APR. It was her inspiration also that the theme of the show was to be the bringing together of the creative cultures of the Western world and the Middle East. A great idea, as this mixture of European and Middle Eastern cultures made for a very exciting and diverse exhibition!
While I had not previously visited the Middle East I have long been fascinated by this region. I also very much admire Islamic art. For some time, it had been an ambition of mine to exhibit my work in the Middle East. In fact, I had just been doing research and seeking an opportunity for showcasing my art there, when, lo and behold, the opportunity arose! Needless to say, I was delighted to be have been selected for the European Craft Exhibition and to have taken part in it.
The invitation to participate in the European Craft Exhibition really lifted my spirits and produced a sustained burst of creative energy. From September 2018 to January 2019, I spent these four and half months painstakingly producing three new embroidered works: “Imperial”, “Happiness”, and “Reflections”.
In total, I was given space at the show for six works, the other three being: “Millennium Kilt No.7”, “Static Dynamic”, and “Nirvana”. The European Craft Exhibition was the first time these works had been shown in public.
It was a very busy schedule. The show went up on the first morning with, thankfully, no problems or delay. A little self-congratulation here, but my advanced planning for hanging the work made this part very easy. The flow of good energy kept coming. The Opening Event was on the evening of the 16th of January, a busy, happy and noisy affair. The show was opened by The Secretary- General, H.E. Eng. Ali Al-Yoha of The National Council for Culture, Arts & Letters.
I mentioned in my previous post that I had been invited by the European Craft Exhibition to give a lecture. On Thursday evening, the 17th of January, I presented a talk about my career and inspirations in the Kuwait National Museum Theatre to an audience of Kuwaitis, expats, and my fellow exhibitors. It was, I’m happy to say, very well received. It is always such an honour to be able to tell my story. I am an Honours graduate of the Glasgow School of Art. I have had a long and varied career spanning (I can’t believe it myself) three decades. I have many stories to tell and I can’t stop myself from injecting some amusing angles to certain situations I have found myself in over the years.
The European Craft Exhibition was a most successful event. Indeed, there was an increasing number of visitors attending, right until the last minute of the show closing.
On a personal/professional level, the European Craft Exhibition was also a most successful event. I have returned home with an expanded contact list, sales of work, and a commission. I am also in discussions about putting on a solo show in Kuwait.
Last, but definitely not least, I would like to say something about my participation in the European Craft Exhibition on a personal/human level. I really enjoyed my time in Kuwait. It was a pleasure to meet both the artists and the visitors to the show. There was a friendly camaraderie among the artists and many stimulating conversations with the visitors to the show. I have, I hope, an expanded contact list of friends. Finally, I would like to thank the organisers of the European Craft Exhibition and especially Dr Ghada Hijjawi-Qaddumi for making me feel so welcome. My visit to Kuwait was an honour and a pleasure and one I shall always treasure. May it be the first of many, inshallah.