Community Art Initiative in Abu Dhabi to Contribute to Charity
Meeting once every month, an Abu Dhabi-based group, Blank Canvas, is promoting the concept of community art by bringing residents from diverse backgrounds together to showcase their creative talents, with the artworks created at the events going towards charitable causes.
The initiative was started by Palestinian-Lebanese sisters Tanya and Christina Awad, who wanted to create a place where people could artistically express themselves along with other likeminded individuals. The monthly meet-ups are open to anyone who wants to join, with each event focusing on a specific theme and topic.
“The idea for such a group started when me and my sister were on a long car trip and we decided to share one notebook completing each other’s lines on each page. After that, we started doing this as a regular activity during our spare time, drawing together rather than separately, and so we decided to take this idea and expand it to a group,” Tanya said, explaining the origin of the concept.
“At the moment, we hold our events at the Third Place Café in Abu Dhabi. At each event, we get around 25 to 30 people joining in. We would like to have more people attending because there is a lot of interest but because of limited space, we can’t take more than those numbers,” she added.
Tanya said that art equipment like paint and brushes are provided for at the event, including a big rolled-out canvas that is placed for everybody to paint on.
“We have one big rolled-out canvas that we place on the table that everybody works on and the goal is to create one big piece. So the person will start painting on one spot for around 15 minutes before everybody gets up and moves to the next spot, carrying on from where the previous person left off,” she said.
“There is a different topic we choose every week with all of them centred around the human experience. At our last event, the theme was birth, and at our next event, we are planning to go with the topic of growth. We see each event as a different chapter that are all related for an overall theme. The people at our events will translate their thoughts and ideas about each subject through their paintings,” she added.
Tanya said the art works created at the events will be displayed at an exhibition when complete, before being sold for charity once the legal requirements are completed.
“We are currently getting the legal paperwork processed so we can sell our artworks for charity, but before we reach that stage, we want to gather all the artworks we created at our sessions and have them displayed at an exhibition for everybody to see. So we are doing two things here — creating art as a community and doing it for a good cause,” she said.
Tanya also spoke on the positivity of bringing people together and giving them the opportunity of creating art.
“We live in a very competitive world, so our place is a bit of a sanctuary away from that. We want to create a place for people to come and encourage one another … it’s all about shared ownership and that is the point of painting on one canvas, we definitely believe that it’s essential for people to feel empowered,” she said.
“Many people who have come to our events have been passionate about art but never tried their hand at it, and all we have done is giving them a canvas and a chance to practise their passion in a non-judgmental and relaxed environment,” she added.
“We have such a wide range of people attending our events — professional artists to people who never even touched a painting brush. At our last event, we had attendees of 12 nationalities including Emiratis, Arabs, and Europeans. There were four mothers at the event as well, and the youngest person was 19, so that gives you an idea of the diversity in our group which is a real representation of our community,” Tanya said.