Saudi Arabia’s first atelier aims to be a hub for Eastern Province artists

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Time: November 14, 2018      

Maysa Alrowaished, founder and art director of ‘Canvash,’ poses with a mural in Alkhobar. (Photo/Supplied)
  • Alrowaished added: “The mural embraces the history of Saudi Arabia’s kings before the Kingdom was unified”

DHAHRAN: The art scene in the Kingdom is growing fast. Artists are being adopted by organizations both private and public. One of the private organizations is Canvash, which aims to become a hub for the artists of the Eastern Region.
“Canvish is Dutch for canvas board,” Maysa Alrowaished, the company’s founder and art director, told Arab News. “I won the award for the best entrepreneurial project in the Eastern Province, sponsored by Princess Abeer Al-Saud, for Canvash, and I am thankful that we were given the first atelier license Kingdom-wide after a journey of some serious persuasion attempts.”

Canvash is different from other art businesses. Alrowaished explained: “We try to target the concept of part-time jobbing where the artist can do their nine-to-five daily jobs while at the same time practicing their passion with a paycheck at the end. Now we have around 17 employees between artists and technical supporters.”
Canvash began with their most prominent project; the mural of “Ahal Aloja,” thought to be the longest national mural in the Kingdom, on the Alkhobar Corniche. The mural was named “Ahal Aloja,” which is Arabic for “the people of Aloja,” after the old name of Ad Diriyah, the capital of the first Saudi state.
“The mural embraces the history of Saudi Arabia’s kings before the Kingdom was unified,” Alrowaished added. “It consists of a group of portraits and achievements of the kings, along with their lingering quotes; it then reaches our present time, including Vision 2030, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The ‘Ahal Aloja’ mural received so much hype that it even became a trend on social media with a number of regional media channels covering it.”

On Canvash’s future plans, Alrowaished said: “Along with other ongoing projects, we aim to participate in international and local contests and exhibitions.
“Success tastes sweeter with challenges,” she said when asked about the challenges she faced as the founder of Canvash. Her biggest challenge was convincing the Ministry of Commerce to issue her an atelier license. “There was no such category as atelier when I requested the license. Canvash went through a lot of discussions and a lot of inducements.
“My dream was to open up an actual atelier and so I went all the way to the office of the Ministry of Commerce in Riyadh to conduct a presentation to the head of the Kingdom’s records. Thankfully my case was convincing, so I received the first atelier license in the Kingdom.
“We encountered a problem with some members of society who cannot understand the importance of art,” she added. “However, we found out that the majority are actually thirsty for art and very excited for all creative projects. Whenever we are working on a project, we always get inquiries from people asking where to find our work.
“You also see people enjoy watching us while we work on individual projects as if these are entertainment events in themselves. This is what rewards us when work becomes hectic and tiring. Society is looking forward to such initiatives.”


This article was first published in Arab News

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