founded by Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who addressed the need of the artistic community by forming an open studio to encourage creativity
Tucked away in Dubai’s leafy green suburb of Nad al Sheba is what can only be described as an artistic haven of tranquility. Tashkeel is a collection of large airy studios owned by Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum and open for use to the art community. Sheikha Lateefa, herself a photographer and keen artist, founded Tashkeel in 2007 after identifying a communal need.
‘I felt that it was very difficult for these artists to flourish and grow without access to resources and facilities and, more importantly, without the opportunity to interact and learn from other artists,’ she says. ‘The idea behind Tashkeel was to provide studios where artists could make their work, a gallery to show their work but, more importantly, to develop a community where like-minded creatives could come together and learn from each other.’
Recently celebrating its fifth anniversary, Tashkeel now has an artist residency programme for international artists to share their expertise, a skate park and a year-round schedule of exhibitions. Sheikha Lateefa describes this as ‘an extraordinary and unexpected journey, which has brought many challenges and a great sense of achievement.’
Another regular entry onto Tashkeel’s annual calendar is the many workshops intended to help the development of existing artists and possibly inspire new ones. ‘We hold regular workshops in each of the major studio disciplines that we offer facilities for – printmaking and textile printing, photography, jewellery, drawing and painting – both to introduce artists to new skills and techniques and to help them to improve and expand existing skills,’ says Sheikha Lateefa.
It is a resource that has certainly changed the outlook of many resident artists who otherwise would simply not have the opportunity to practice their skills.
Due to this and her constant support of the national art community in the UAE, Sheikha Lateefa is often referred to as a role model and an ambassador for the artistic community. It is a title that she humbly accepts and does her best to uphold. ‘As the Director of Tashkeel I work closely with artists and designers, and try and help them find their own voice through experimentation in different mediums of art and design. If this doesn’t occur on a one-to-one basis I try and make sure that Tashkeel always provides a range of choice of studios, equipment and workshops.’
Sheikha Lateefa’s own work – a collection of ethereal photographs depicting figures in unusual settings in the UAE landscape – have garnered critical acclaim. She was one of three artists to represent the UAE at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and her image, The Last Look, was used on promotional material to summarise the entire show, titled Second Time Around.
It is partly due to her own experiences then as an artist, she says, that Tashkeel has become so successful. ‘I look at things from an artist’s perspective since that’s my background; so I understand where they are coming from and appreciate the struggles that they go through day in and day out to achieve their goals. The space we provide at Tashkeel is a meeting point for creative minds to interact and possibly collaborate with each other; where there is a possibility of greater artistic endeavours to occur.’
In 2013, the space will host a collaborative show with the jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels as part of the brand’s ongoing Metamorphosis exhibition. Always thinking ahead, Sheikha Lateefa says she is excited about the prospects of this collaboration and future projects at Tashkeel.