With over 100 artworks by 58 artists from 29 countries and spanning the 10 year history of the creativitiy of Tashkeel, this year’s Made In Tashkeel show is as varied as it is full. However, there were some undercurrent themes that proved interesting for the careful viewer. The natural world appears several times in various iterations. Banu Colak’s series of work called Eastern Gardens is inspired by the layout of Islamic gardens, natural Arabic medicines and healing recipes. It aims to create a dialogue between the past and the present; the natural and the manmade; the idealistic and real; and the seen and the unseen. Also, Anna Shtraus’ Driving in the Rain (Burak Dam, Sharjah) from 2019 analogue photograph is an homage to the ever-changing landscapes of the UAE. Elizabeth Dorazio’s drawing on paper from the series On Nature is deeply rooted in research upon early Greek philosophers and their explanations of the universe through the natural world. It is rendered on overlapping coloured paper, which creates an illusion of watching nature through a glazed outer surface. Huma Shoaib’s paper cut drawings of bees inside a pattern of sacred geometry is a reflection of all things in nature – seemingly perfectly in place but with hidden flaws.

Geometric patterns are also present in several pieces, mostly grouped together in one section of the show. A personal favourite is that of Kay Li – a Hong Kong born fashion designer. Combining textile smocking and metallic foiling techniques on translucent fabrics, her textile art piece Shadow (2019) is tessellated in symmetry and creates interesting visual effect with light and shadow. Another artist interested in the use of pattern is Yara Habib, whose work Daydream (2018) is made of maple and beech plywood and has meditative qualities. The layers of the piece denote movement although the piece is still and framed. The closer you get to it, the more details you see.

Yara Habib. Daydream. 2018. Maple and beech plywood, acrylic glass, 60 x 60 x 5 cm. Courtesy of Tashkeel
Yara Habib. Daydream. 2018. Maple and beech plywood, acrylic glass, 60 x 60 x 5 cm. Courtesy of Tashkeel

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Deputy Director of Tashkeel, said that the exhibition, which is an annual display of the pieces produced within the studio hub and the workspaces, plays a pivotal role in opening avenues for the UAE’s growing community of promising artists and designers. “The format of the exhibition enables practitioners from various artistic disciplines to present their distinct and novel works,” she said. “We are particularly proud of this year’s edition as we have the highest number of artists participating, making this our most diverse summer showcase yet.”

Spanning a wide range of disciplines, the works take many forms, including photography (analogue and digital), mixed media, textiles, screen printing, sculpture, projection, calligraphy, painting, jewellery, and woodcuts. Each individual has been part of the Tashkeel journey, whether as a member, instructor, artist-in-residence or participant in a solo or group show.

A visit to Made in Tashkeel is like a pulse check for the UAE’s emerging art scene and as a visitor, you emerge refreshed and inspired.