Reception at Ambassador's Residence
Through the Art in Embassies program, Ambassador Justin Siberell, a native Californian from Hillsborough, has invited me and Goetz to participate in their Cultural Exchange Program. One week was filled with our workshops and lectures, as well as exhibitions of my work at the Ambassador's residence and at the Bait Al Salmaniya Art Center.
In 3 days I held total of 5 watercolor workshops with art students, high school students and artists/enthusiasts at University College of Bahrain, University of Bahrain, Hawar International School, and Bait Al Salmaniya Art Center. Students spoke impeccable English as private schools receive British/American education. It was a rewarding experience to have worked with these bright, creative students of Bahrain.
Exhibition at Bait Al Salmaniya
After the Ambassador's reception, my work was transferred to Bait Al Salmaniya for a month-long exhibition.
Shaikh Ebrahim Center for Culture and Research
Founded by Shaikha Mai, former Minister of Culture and a visionary woman, who now spearheads the organization to preserve the Bahraini culture, the center has restored around ten traditional Bahraini houses for cultural activities, preserving the original architecture while modernizing them with contemporary design. Each house is dedicated to a Bahraini cultural heritage such as House for Poetry, House for Music, or House of Art, etc.
Bahrain National Theater
Designed by Architecture-Studio of Paris, the theater has 1001 seats (as in the Arabian Nights), and this elegant design has the shape of a boat on the inside. As part of the cultural exchange, a tour of the National Theater and the National Museum was graciously arranged by the Embassy with the Museum Director.
Reconstructions bring the history of Bahrain alive, from the Dilmun civilization to the religion, people, crafts, agriculture, burial rituals, religions and much more.
A' Ali Pottery Factories and 4,000 year-old Dilmun burial mounds
Bahrain, once the ancient land of Dilmun and later Tylos, was a hub for pottery-making. In the small village of A'ali, where the royal burial mounds of the Dilmun's kings and queens were laid to rest, traditional pottery workshops still operate in this ancient archeological site. The owner of the Delmon shop has been carrying on a trade that has been passed down for generations. The Bahraini clay doesn't take glazing well, so many items are left unglazed.
Potters use the old-fashioned foot operated wheel, and baking the finished pots in kilns built into the nearby burial mounds; a traditional method passed down through generations.
The Manama Souq, one of Bahrain's oldest markets, is on the Pearling pathway (Pearl Route) and gives an atmosphere of old Bahraini life. You can find traditional clothing, jewelry, coffee, spices, and confectionary.
Beit Al Qur'an
Housed in a building spectacularly engraved with Arabic script, Beit al Quran (House of Quran) showcases a fascinating collection of Quranic manuscripts as well as a library of over 50,000 books written in Arabic, English, and French that center mostly on Islam. Holy Quran, while its manuscript cannot be changed, is exhibited in variety of text books of different sizes and shapes written in different styles.
Al Fateh Grand Mosque
Bahrain’s largest place of worship and among one of the largest mosques in the world and has the ability to host over 7000 worshippers.
Photo Credits: Goetz Frank, Bernadette J Frank