A world museum of handicraft

Salalah Tourism Festival (STF) has virtually turned into a global village for handicraft with the participation of a large number of artisans from Oman and abroad. Omani handmade artefacts have been displayed at the individual galleries, heritage village and Omani handicraft courtyard, which has been dedicated to artisans from all over the Sultanate. Many artisans have set up virtual workshops not only to display their products but also to sell them.

Among global participants are artisans from Ghana, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Norway, Estonia, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Jordon and Tunisia. They are showcasing their products, while Iranian, Russian, Indian, and Kyrgyz participants went back after their scheduled 10-day stay in the festival. Most of the participants carry a passion for art, which they are exhibiting at their stalls along with their products.
Some women entrepreneurs from Salalah have also put up their stalls in the festival ground where they are showcasing handicraft items. Some of them are finding the venue a nice marketing venue for their products.
Mandy Nash from the UK has attractive collection of colourful jewellery at her stall. Her personal craft started with the setting up of her workshop in 1983 after leaving the Royal College of Art. In 1990 she established her studio in Model House Craft and Design Centre in Llantrisant. Nash has her exhibitions done in the UK, Europe, Japan, the US and Canada.
Happy to take part in the STF, Nash sums up her love for art as passion for three things — colour, pattern and technique. “I love making things and exploring the possibilities of different materials. Although I trained as a jeweller, my work has been heavily influenced by both traditional and contemporary textiles. Over the last ten years I have also been developing work in felt. I combine this with my jewellery practice to create both functional pieces and work that is purely decorative.”
Jabbar Salemamad Khatri from India is a traditional art block printer. His community is known for traditional craft of ‘ajrakh’ (natural dyes). He brought pure organic cotton products in natural dyes and handmade textiles, accessories fabric and fiber.
Khatri is a Man of vision, who learnt knitting and printing skills from his father and grandfather. He is proud to mention that his brother Majid Salemamad Khatri got UNESCO Excellence Award in 2008 and also achieved Nantong International Contemporary Craft Biennale Award by World Craft Council in 2014.
Sang Sideth has brought many attractive handicraft items from Cambodia. Her stall is drawing visitors’ attention for handmade silver products and textile items.
“I am able to see the rich heritage and culture of Oman by taking part in the festival. As an artist and handicraft businesswoman I find many learning opportunities for artisans of Oman and other countries gathered in the festival,” said Sang.
She finds huge support in her daughter-in-law Pony Pony who takes part in almost all the exhibitions along with Sang, who has participated in Asean exhibitions in China, Lao, Vietnam, Thailand Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.
Yu-Ping Lin and Gua-Gua from Taiwan are basically artistes who have passion for colour, shape and innovating new things. They are happy to witness the vibrant heritage and culture of Dhofar. For them, Salalah looks like a virtual museum of heritage and culture. Explaining her theme as an artist Yu-Ping said: “I do not set out to be a fashion or jewellery artist but as my portfolio developed, I became interested in both elements and aesthetics.”
“My work comprises fabric, metal and mixed media. It is process-based and structurally complex. The techniques include Origami, paper cutting, laser cutting, hand painting, dyeing, digital printing, transferring and fabricating. Due to the designed structure, it offers diversification of wearing. With the presentation of the colour, pattern and structure, may my works bring fun and fantasy to the audience,” she said.
Gua-Gua is a travel artist from Taiwan who does painting and handmade macrame jewellery. All her art works are based on her travel themes. “I have been backpacking for more than five years so far I always carry my backpack and do my arts wherever I go.”
She puts emphasis on nature and admits that her “original works of art comes frequently from the nature, and the final establishment is from the complexity of my mind and spirit.”

Text by Kaushalendra Singh 
Pictures by Bosko Gajic