As I’m always saying; my first design instructor was Mohie El Deen El Labbad, the late artist, designer and cartoonist–or as he used to describe himself: A bookmaker!
I started reading Labbad articles in Majed magazine, at the age of 8 and 9, he had a weekly article about art, design thinking, graphic design, art critique, visual understanding, culture and identity re-forming, all for children readers, of course, he was the pioneer, and sadly saying; I’m not sure if there is anyone still doing this at the present time.
He launched several series, each having one title and one theme, in this article from 1988, he wrote under the title “The Beautiful Books’ Closet – خزانة الكتب الجميلة” a review on something he admired a lot; the Arab Arts. The catalog was published by The Freer Gallery of Art, at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museums in Washington, 1975.
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Teaching Arabic calligraphy is a vital issue to me, and I used to organise and give many workshops to teach that Art and spreading its splendours, especially when I connect it with design and Arabic visual culture. But in this time, I had the privilege to teach young kids from Syria, who moved with their families to Istanbul after the war crises in their home country.
I’ve conducted two workshops, the first one was in elementary school for Syrian students in Beylikdüzü district west of Istanbul, for around 12 students from different age groups. Then the second workshop that took place in the 16th century historic library of the Yavuz Sultan Salim Mosque in the heart of old Istanbul-ian neighbourhood; at Fatih district.
Anyway, the place it self was a total surprise for me.. I was told that I’ll teach kids in a mosque.. I couldn’t believe that the mosque would be a 500 years old building!
Though I insisted to give those workshops using the traditional calligraphy tools; which might be difficult for young kids — but the results of both workshops were magnificent! the students were so interacted with the tools and letters, they challenged their selves to improve the way they write, and in the end; they produced a beautiful artworks they were proud of. It was a great experience for me and for the kids as well, even their parents were so happy for their children efforts to learn such a joyful and cultural/visual art. Please enjoy looking at photos from the workshops down here.
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