Maryam al Zedjali was a school student in 1980 when Youth Art Studio was established in the Sultanate of Oman. She heard about it, approached the studio and enrolled as a member.
“There were just 15 of us,” she recollected. Today, Al Zedjali is an artist of fame who visits international art galleries to broaden her art horizon.
At the Art Studio she met Anwar Sonya, Rabat Mahmood, Suhar Foda, Yasmeen Mohammed, Ayub Malank, Hunaini brothers and Ahmed al Adawi. In the years to come, each of them left a mark in the field of art.
“I was trained by Anwar Sonya. I had no idea about colours or artistic elements. At that time, we were just depicting Omani heritage and culture. We had no idea about the international art scene or history. Later, with the introduction of workshops, and visits to international art galleries our horizons began to widen,” she shared.
Everyone remembers Egyptian art teacher Dr Baba Ghashin fondly. After finishing school, Maryam got married and art took a back seat. She had to miss four opportunities that came her way to study art in Kuwait, Egypt, Italy and USA. She began to work in telecommunications in 1990 and soon had the urge to continue her studies. She took Philosophy and Psychology at Beirut University and by 1993, there was an announcement about the formation of the Omani Fine Arts Society.
Maryam took a plunge and joined OFA along with Hassan Meer, Salem al Hasheli and Yousuf al Fori.
“At that time, art was not considered that special. From 1990 to 1993 art was active but everyone felt it was not necessary and people had the impression art cannot be taken as a career. For us, however, it was an amazing time — everything was supported by the government. We would work until 2 am. We felt it was a distinguished field. We started taking care of Omani women artists and encouraged artists in all the regions. The number of artists began to increase and we had soon four branches located in Muscat, Salalah, Al Buraimi and Suhar,” she said.
By then,, more than 1,000 artists had registered. By 1999, Maryam was keen to study art further and the Diwan supported her to complete her Master in Arts.
In 2008, she became the director of the Omani Fine Arts Society.
“We had some exciting projects such as Omani Flying Exhibition - it was held in the flights for seven destinations with 43 artists travelling to seven different destinations. And there were many such exciting projects.
I want to continue the journey and bring all my experience to benefit my country. I used to paint Omani heritage buildings, houses, doors and windows. I was keen to start a volunteer project and thus began the Imty project!” she explained.
The artistic cultural tourism project, Imty is to immortalise archaeological moments through art. The village is located in Izki, reoriented by two suburbs Al Ain and Sawad. The old mud houses with Falaj running through the village are a picturesque sight.
“Through this project, we hope that the cultural aspects of Omani tourism will be prominent and expressive from the nature of the culture and knowledge acquired by Omanis through their historical experiences, which have spun their social and artistic ethics, by presenting “Imty” as a unique tourist masterpiece and a destination worthy to be taken out to the world in a beautiful way for those interested in knowing the history and ancient civilisation of the place and the Omani human,” she said.