Fashion Exchange as part of Qatar UK 2013
Fashion Exchange Qatar UK 2013 ©

Raphael Gallery, V&A Museum, London, UK ©Qatar Museums Authority

Main photo credit: Fashion Exchange, 5 September 2013, Raphael Gallery, V&A Museum, London, UK. © Qatar Museums Authority

The arts and design pillar of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture aimed to offer audiences in an understanding and appreciation of the vibrant arts activity in both countries. The Arts and Design programme included artists residencies and exchanges, an architecture charette, theatre and music performances, fashion and specially curated exhibitions. 

The Old Doha Prize

UK and Qatari architects had the chance to win a week-long design residency through the Old Doha Prize competition which took place in Doha as part of Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture.

Organised by the British Council and Qatar Museums Authority, the Old Doha Prize offered a unique opportunity for UK architecture practices to collaborate with their Qatari counterparts. 

Five teams were given the opportunity to research and explore new ways in which to address the ever-changing urban landscape of Old Doha. The charette (an intense period of design and planning) focused specifically on the neighbourhoods of Al Asmakh and Najada in the heart of Old Doha.

It was founded on the principle of Turath Al Hai (Living Heritage) - the idea that heritage is not something set in history; rather something that continually evolves whilst remaining deeply rooted in the past. The winning team were awarded a grant of £15,000 and the opportunity to visit the London Festival of Architecture in 2014.

The competition was offered in conjunction with:

Fashion exchange

Qatari and British cultures combined to stunning effect as the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London hosted Fashion Exchange, a fashion show that featured work by internationally renowned UK designer Philip Treacy and emerging female entrepreneurs from Qatar’s Roudha Centre, Elham Al Ansari, Fathiya Al Jaber and Hessa Al Mannai.

The UK showed paired Abayas and Jalabiyas by the Qatari designers with headdresses by Philip Treacy, with the aim of challenging perceptions of the Abaya and the role of women in Gulf societies. The Abaya was celebrated as a garment of style, modesty and expression, much like the Kimono and Sari in Japanese and Indian cultures.

Ferozkoh: Tradition and Continuity in Afghan Art

Tradition and Continuity in Afghan Art was the result of a collaboration between the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Doha, Qatar with students and teachers from the Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

The unifying theme of the exhibition was the preservation of the traditional arts of the Islamic world – in themes and materials – in the present day and the role of education in both transmission and translation. 

Half of the exhibition's 36 objects are historical pieces from MIA's masterpiece collection; the products of four great dynasties with connections to Afghanistan: the Ghaznavids, Timurids, Mughals and Safavids. 

The other half of the objects were created specifically for the exhibition by students and teachers of the Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in Kabul, in response to, and in conversation with, the historical objects. The Institute is an initiative of the Kabul-based Turquoise Mountain Trust, a UK charity under the patronage of HRH the Prince of Wales and founded by Rory Stewart MP, OBE.

Al Noor - Fragile Vision

Rachel Gadsden is an exciting and unique artist with over 25 years’ experience of creating dynamic work as both a solo artist and a collaborator, as well as leading a range of national and international participative programmes.

At the core of her practice are concerns as to how humankind comes to terms with mortality: by unearthing the unseen, making the invisible visible. Part of that process is about being open about impairment, and working to empower others to find a voice with which to challenge stigma.

Ultimately Gadsden’s work is underpinned by themes of fragility and resilience, a shared and positive sense of survival in the face of chronic health conditions, and the politics and mythologies surrounding disability.

She created an exhibition for the British Council in Bahrain and Qatar called This Breathing World at Katara Cultural Village along with the facilitation of an extensive outreach project as part of the first ever Arts and Disability Festival in the Middle East. 

Artist's Exchange Programme

Four art students from the UK’s renowned Slade School of Fine Art teamed up with four Qatari artists as part of the Qatar UK Artist’s Exchange Residency programme. The programme was set up by the Doha-based Msheireb resident artist Ben Barbour, and developed and hosted at Katara Cultural Village.

Three Qatari artists, Shaymaa Alyafey, Ameera Al Aji and Ali Al Mullah took part in the residency and worked closely with the UK artists, Hannah Shin, Jennifer Martin, Robert Crosse and Zoe Schoenherr. They launched an exhibition called 'New Perspectives', followed by a panel discussion that focused on the challenges that faced the artists during the residency in Qatar, the benefits of the residencies, new learning, future plans, and cultural dialogue through arts.

The panel discussion was chaired by Caitlin Doherty, exhibitions and speaker curator at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar and Andrew Stahl, Head of undergraduate painting at the Slade School of Fine Arts in London.