As Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated as an annual recognition and celebration of romance, Egyptian streets are often full of red balloons, red roses, cards everywhere and teddy bears looking outside a car window waiting to be delivered.
However, the Zayed Academy for Training and Development (ZAT) celebrated February 14 in a different way bringing art closer to people as part of ‘Brush and Colours’ exhibition featuring works of art by both children and adults.
In a vast room set for young participants and art lovers to showcase their work, varying sizes of canvases have shown beautiful artwork of trees, butterflies, birds and skies with different shades of colours popped with acrylic paints.
Artist and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Art Education Mohamed el-Meslemany led the opening of the exhibition that was followed by a group of children excited to show their artwork to their parents among other attendees who participated in the exhibition.
“I’m optimistic to find people dedicated to learning. Some parents are committed to making their children develop their knowledge and interest in art […] how they care about the academy and are proud to their children’s work hung on the wall […] this gives you great hope in tomorrow,” el-Meslemany told Egyptian Streets.
This was the first exhibition held at ZAT, featuring the work of all students, who are mostly children and a few adults.
Following the opening of the exhibition, El-Meslemany observed the works of all artists, discussing the paintings and giving tips to each participant on how they can grow as an artist.
“Art, children, learning techniques, laughter, playing and joking and the fact that children come here with a loving spirit and curiosity about art, it means the world to me,” said Nelly Mahmoud Gad, an art teacher at ZAT who organized the exhibition along with the academy management.
Gad explained that there are five levels of her drawing course including landscape, animals, the human figure and face dimensions.
“Level five is all about creativity. In this level, the children create sketches entirely from their head […] at this point they can paint and draw lines. They learned everything, so this is an advanced level. It’s their chance to express themselves and be creative based on what they learned,” said Gad.
“I graduated from the faculty of art education and then worked as an interior designer. For a while now, if I feel bad, I would go back to drawing and totally divert away from the decor business. Then I felt like I want to have a profession to do with art. I did some research and started giving art lessons to some children and found myself happy and emotionally comfortable,” adds Gad.
Nermin Aly, mother of a 10-year-old student, Maya, told Egyptian Streets, “she [Maya] always loved to draw but she needed someone…to guide her and teach her…She would want to finish paintings in just 5 minutes, and wouldn’t have the patience to keep trying. But here with miss Nelly, she happily spends two to three hours working on a painting without any boredom.”
Many of the adults who participated in the exhibition are mothers who followed their children’s suit and pursued art in their leisure. “This is a painting by a mother who mimicked her daughter’s pursuit. She clung to the drawing classes after seeing the work of her daughter,” Gad explained cheerfully to the exhibition attendees as she pointed towards an acrylic painting of a vase of flowers.
El-Meslemany, Gad along with two personnel from the academy management handed all child and adult artists appreciation certificates, which concluded the exhibition.
“Sometimes I feel a bit lazy after school but I would still be happy to come here,” said 10-year-old Lilly Ahmed, who had many paintings and drawings featured at the exhibition.
Some parents sought el-Meslemany for advice on how they can improve their children’s drawing skills. He advised them to applaud their children for whatever they draw. “If a child is restricted by rules, they will be bored. Art does not have the idea of boredom. If you’re doing art with love, then you will create something beautiful,” el-Meslemany told Egyptian Streets.
“Everyone of us has an artist inside of them. Every human is an artist by nature,” said El-Meslemany. “If they’re doing art just as a homework, it will be a dull task and they won’t be able to excel in it […] The idea here to make children love art and draw them closer to it. It shouldn’t be based on rules and that they took an assignment that they should finish before going to sleep.”