The anticipated SADI art exhibition organized by and held at Sadu House will see its doors open on Monday, Feb 12 at 7 pm. The Sadu Art and Design Initiative (SADI) is a 3-month ambitious program that invites five up-and-coming local artists to immerse themselves in a series of workshops and lectures that dive deeply into the history, process and cultural importance of Al Sadu weaving.
The artists, armed with the knowledge they have gained, would then create an art piece in line with the year’s theme, which will then be exhibited on the opening night of the exhibition. This year’s theme is ‘Materiality of the Desert’, and this year’s SADI artists are Zainab Dashti, Mohammed Khesroh, Maha Al-Shimmeri, Ahmed Al-Saffar and Fatemah Dashti.
Al-Sadu is the name given to the traditional weaving that was practiced by bedouin women in pre-oil Arabia. It is regionally recognized by its symmetrical patterns, bold symbolism, simplicity, elegance and traditional colours that include red, black, white and brown. Along with hosting workshops and events, Sadu House promotes and preserves the art of Sadu weaving through the annual SADI exhibition. Launched in 2016, the aim of the program is to “encourage creativity and innovation in contemporary textile and design”. This year’s program manager is Sahar Almuscati, who was assisted by Rawan Alotaibi, and with curator Saphiya Abu Almaati hosting the open studio hours guiding and critiquing the artists.
This year’s theme, ‘Materiality of the Desert’, is described by Sadu House as how bedouin women used the natural desert materials around them and “through skill, good use and sound adaptation, were able to employ into abundant means to survive and thrive in their harsh environments”. The program invites the selected artists to find their own interpretation of the theme to create their own unique pieces. The artists are “challenged to build the knowledge and curiosity to bridge past and present, practicality and expression, as well as constraint and innovation”.
Started in October 2023, this year’s workshops included a unique sitting with master weavers Umm Mohammed, Umm Abdullah and Mutaira, who shared their memories, experiences and expertise in Sadu weaving. Masirah Al-Enezi, Vice Chairperson of Al Sadu Society, gave workshops on the step-by-step process of making a traditional Sadu piece that left the artists equipped with the knowledge and exact techniques of the weaving itself.
Master weaver Mutaira joined by Sheikha Bibi Al-Sabah held a dyeing workshop demonstrating the traditional process of mixing and boiling the natural materials of the desert to dye the wool used for weaving. The artists learned how to combine the raw ingredients of madder, pomegranate peels, dry lemon, alum, salt and turmeric to create natural colours. Photographer Huda Abdulmoghni and Abdulaziz Shaheen held a cyanotype printing workshop in Studio Khemiae, where the artists learnt to use a cyanotype mixture to create pictures using sunlight that were later developed using solutions of tea and coffee.
Along with workshops there were a series of insightful lectures that included guest speakers, such as artist and sculptor Sami Mohammed, who along with Sheikha Altaf Al-Sabah delved into the history and symbolism of Al Sadu. Anthropologist Dr Mohammed Al-Haddad gave a lecture on the use of Sadu from its primitive origins to its potential contemporary uses.
Architect and artist Fareed Abdal spoke about connecting and integrating the traditions, process and materials of Al Sadu with the modern age. Graphic designer Dr Sarah Al-Falah delved into the creative process itself and the importance of constraints in creativity.
Sadu House is in Kuwait City on the Arabian Gulf Street and is currently run by the Al Sadu Weaving Cooperative society, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the artistry and history of traditional bedouin Al Sadu weaving. SADI continues to attract the attention of local art and culture enthusiasts in its ninth year since its inception.