Art for a cause

February 07, 2019

Hundreds of artists came together to donate artwork for a fundraiser held by Dar al Atta’a’s Let’s Read initiative at InterContinental Muscat on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The exhibition, called Tastar Oman Incognito Art Exhibition, raised money to buy books for the Maktabati mobile library programme.

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With half of the artwork sold on the first day itself, Jane Bickmore Jaffer, chairperson of Let’s Read, said, “The concept is new to Oman and it’s a unique exhibition, where hundreds of artists have provided us with or donated their original artworks.”

The artworks are small postcards or A4 sized and the artists have put their names at the back of the artwork. “This way you don’t actually know whose art you are buying. You buy what you see and love and not just because of the artists,” she said.

Radhika Hamlai, one of the artists who participated in the exhibition, said that most artists were happy to provide postcard sized artwork for a cause. “This was a great way to promote art and I was happy it was attached to a good cause.”

Tarini Agarwal, who had provided eight postcard artworks, said, “It was an interesting concept. At any exhibition, people usually tend to buy art by renowned artists, but here since the artist’s names were not revealed, people bought art not connected to any known artist.”

“An old friend of mine is involved in this charity programme and being asked to contribute to the artwork sell was an honour,” said Iben Warburg, an artist based in Denmark.

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Participating artists included David Webber, Alan Reed, Violet Astor, Bubbly Chowdry, Anna Dudchenko, Caty Cordahi, Karen Carpenter, Lynne Harkes, Pippa Edwards, Lesley Johnson, Sunny Shen, Debjani Bhardwaj, Kholoud Sabbak, Una Gibbons, Nadia Dalziel, Zahra Dawood, Asawari Deoras, Marie Landh, Mohamed al Rawahi, Hana Sarhan and Rachel Eapen, besides Radhika, Tarini and more.

There was also a silent auction, where people bid on original and limited edition artworks of well-known artists. “We were fortunate to have an overwhelming response. The artists who were in the room were also pleasantly surprised,” said Jane, as she pointed out the different stories attached to the artworks.

“There were three generations of women artists whose works were displayed and that was a very powerful element,” said Jane. She herself had placed an artwork by her father, James Bickmore, on display. “My father would be absolutely tickled to be in an exhibition 15 years after he died.”

The exhibition was diverse in every way, from the varied mix of artists from all over the world, to the different styles, genres, subjects and mediums. “You had well known artists and amateurs who are just starting out. The youngest artist was three years old and there were 11 year olds and teenagers who came forth and donated their art for this cause,” said Jane. “Most of the artists have had some association with Oman, either they’ve lived in the country or visited or have had some relation.”