Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tapestry and Website News

The Forum section on the Outspoken - - for African writers and African Painters - - websites has been hacked and attacked. It's a real shame but I don't have the technical expertise to work these problems out. Too bad for those wanting to have their say or voice heard out of Africa. Never mind....I'll just have to keep blogging I guess.

My thoughts today are on setting up weaving groups in Africa. First/Second/Third Generation Weavers from Egypt at the The Ramses Wissa Wassef Art School.

Egyptian Landscapes:
Fifty Years of Tapestry Weaving
at the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre, Cairo

19th January - 17th March 2006

This exhibition presented a rare opportunity to see a dazzling collection of tapestries from one of the world's greatest schools of weaving, Egypt's ground-breaking Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre. The exhibition featured masterpieces from the Centre's permanent collection as well as stunning new pieces. Woven over the past half-century, they are the result of a unique educational philosophy that has profound significance for all forms of art and creativity.

The collection last visited Britain in 1985 when the tapestries were hailed for their beauty, humanity and significance. Remarkably, these vivid depictions of Egypt's flora, fauna and people were created by individuals who have had no formal art training.

More than 50 years later the Centre's magnificent tapestries confirm that innate creativity can grow with a child into adolescence and adulthood. The Egyptian Landscapes exhibition will include retrospectives of two of the weavers, charting their work from childhood. Two other weavers will be working at their looms in the gallery during the exhibition.

Since Wissa Wassef's death in 1974 his widow Sophie and daughters Suzanne and Yoanna have continued his experiment: under their guidance several further generations of Harrania children have now mastered weaving at the Art Centre. The project has transformed the lives of the villagers, bringing prosperity, education, better health, self-respect and satisfaction to all and high status to the women.

The Ramses Wissa Wassef Exhibition Trust, a UK charity No. 1108988, is organising the exhibition at the Brunei Gallery to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "experiment in creativity" and to introduce the philosophy and the tapestries to a new generation. The tapestries will inspire and delight everyone who sees them - young and old, art lovers, educationalists, students, amateurs and professionals. Further information can be found at


Just imagine if this was repeated all over Africa. It wonderful if an organisation or individual took the prostitutes, the street kids, the drug addicts and alcoholics from Nairobi, Kampala and Dar-e-Salam to Weaving Centres during the day in order for the girls and boys to have an outlet for creativity. And give them a chance to explore something beautiful. Who cares what they do of a night, what is important is that they have a chance to establish a sense of self-worth. This is vital for the true development of contemporary Africa. It should be inclusive not exclusive. Contemporary society is lead far too much by the priviledged. Of course these Centre would also have enormous benefits to village communities too.

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