Established in 2008 to quench what founder Lateefa bint Maktoum felt was a dire need for a facility to cater to the surge of creativity in the region, in the past 5 years of operation, the Tashkeel art facility has served true to its tagline – ‘a hub for the creative.’
Nestled between Ghaf trees in the outskirts of urban Dubai, this Nad Al Sheba hideaway is a trove of artistic resourcefulness, which both upcoming as well as established artists based in Dubai, can utilize to either work from or display in.
The name, derived from the Arabic term for fine art ‘fen tashkeely,’ is also used to refer to variety, as reflected by the diversity of artistic mediums the center panders to. The two-storey facility is not to be judged at face value from its outer facade however, for what looks to be a slightly older building (in comparison to the sleek and shiny ones Dubai is known to offer) is actually rather cunningly housing a state-of-the-art facility for the artistically inclined.
An exhibition space-cum-gallery occupies the front half of the facility’s ground floor, accommodating a mélange of artworks. The Made in Tashkeel exhibition currently running for instance (until the end of August) offers an eccentric collection of art by Tashkeel members, from jute handbags imprinted with Laban carton logos, to an intricately furnished dollhouse. Photographs are displayed side-by-side with 3D woodwork installations, and life-size canvases of calligraphy serve as aesthetic backdrops to propped-up flipbooks.
This diversity of members’ portfolios is a reflection of the facilities and equipment made available to them, which a tour of the rest of the center only serves to further cement. Studios include fine art, printmaking and textile printing rooms and tools (among others), a Mac lab with machines equipped with all the necessary graphic designing software, and even a photography darkroom with a time capsule-esque entryway.
Members also have access to a private library, its shelves stocked with up-to-date art journals, reference books and magazines (including Khaleejesque of course!). And possibly even better as inspiration, a member’s lounge in which to rub shoulders with other resident artists, both professional and the just-starting-out.
The artworks Tashkeel has on display aren’t just confined to the gallery and hallways within the building though. Sprawled across the back lawn is a large, orange and functional skateboard ramp taking the shape of the Arabic script of the Tashkeel logo. Built, rather ‘created’, as part of the Skate Biladi (Skate My Country) exhibition held at the venue in February of 2012, the structure is now a permanent fixture free for use, in the hope that the graffiti and paintings-infused ramp will impress a little appreciation for the arts with every 'Ollie' and 'grind'.
Following the success of Tashkeel in Nad Al Sheba, a second venue was launched 4 years later in Dubai’s heritage-inspired art district of Bastakiya. This extension of Tashkeel differs however, in that it houses six individual artist studios (as opposed to the communal workspaces in Nad Al Sheba) as well as a dedicated members' gallery.
In addition to the space, facilities and equipment on offer, Tashkeel is also known to host a number of workshops for the benefit of its members as well as to interested non-members throughout the year. Previous workshops have been led by renowned names of the likes of Sacha Jafri, Azza Al Qubaisi and Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares.
Tashkeel artists have basked in their fair share of success, some having been involved in the city’s annual art fair, Art Dubai, since its inception in 2009, and others having exhibited across international waters, namely in Berlin, London, Brisbane and Beirut.
Now five years since its inception, Tashkeel has established itself as synonymous with quality artwork and resources. The variety the facility offers has not just instilled an appreciation of the arts from those on the outside, but helped fuel the many talents emerging locally.
For more information, visit www.tashkeel.org
– Shaahima Fahim
Images courtesy of Tashkeel