Say It Ain’t So Giuse Maggi – May 20 and 21 2013 Workshop

The Book of the Truth by Giuse Maggi 2013

Internationally-known, glass artist, Giuse Maggi, like the rest of the world, has turned to plastic.

How did this development come about?

Recycled glass has been the foundation of her work.  Her trademark, glass bottle plates have been a staple at all her shows.  However, after years of wrapping herself in a flame-proof apron and wearing thick gloves and goggles to melt glass in 450 degree heat, she decided to experiment and turned to the most ubiquitous, manmade, material on earth – plastic.  Giuse told me, in her Italian-accent,

“I wanted a material which was not so fra-gile.  I dis-covered how easy plas-tic is to melt and shape.”

The large, hanging piece, she calls “Inner Space” is made out of 6,000 water bottles.  Her other pieces in the RE exhibit include a second, hanging piece made from one hundred, milk cartons; colored, detergent bottle creations; several flowers; and a book fabricated from a countless number of melted, plastic grocery bags.  The pieces are not just about creating beauty from waste, but includes her warning about our consumer society.

Giuse finds plastic to be one of the most useful and easily manipulated materials- offering her endless possibilities. She compulsively cuts, melts, presses and ties … begging us to consider our harsh reality: that 45,000 tons of plastic a year are dumped into our world’s oceans, critically harming marine life.

– from the RE Exhibit.

One strong message is about plastic’s toxicity.

The cancer causing process

In a public discussion, this geologist turned artist said she would never do high heat, plastic melting again.  The plastic, especially the detergent bottles, poisoned her body and literally made her sick.  Weeks after finishing the exhibit, a metallic taste lingers in her mouth.  She tries to extinguish the affect with food and drink, but a few hours after eating, it returns.  She warned heating plastic should only be done in a highly ventilated room or outside.

For re-creating plastic into jewelry, Giuse suggests only using a candle flame.  “It is safer,” she said.

However, her experience makes me wonder about the use of plastics for anything – from the Downey detergent bottles, the clear plastic, cover molded around my new, plastic toothbrush to the millions of plastic toys baby’s insert into their mouths.  Creating plastic products requires a high heat process which sends the fumes into the air.  After its short life in our homes, the dumped plastic takes approximately 1,000 years to break into small bits, allowing its base chemicals to flow into the soil and water systems.

Consumer manufacturers have turned to plastic because, like Giuse, they discovered how easy and cheap it is to mold.  The question becomes – are we trading our clean air for convenience, ease of delivery and the manufacturers’ quarterly profits?

Giuse continues to lecture on recycling plastic.  This week at the Waterline Gallery, she is teaching how to transform our waste into jewelry, creating wearable art using her cold method.


Artist and teacher Giuse Maggi, will conduct a “RE” jewelry class.  Using recycled plastic and basic tools, you’ll learn how to transform plastic bottles into wearable brooches, hair accessories, bracelets or necklaces.

The workshop will be held for two days – Monday 20th-21st May from 6.00-8.00pm at the Waterline Gallery in the Bahrain Financial Harbor.

The 5BD cost will cover all the tools you will need.

Please confirm your attendance on Facebook or send an email to


The Waterline Art Gallery, 3rd Floor Atrium, Harbour Mall, Bahrain Financial Harbour.

There is a new entrance into the Financial Harbour at Bab Al Bahrain/Manama City Center.  The Financial Harbour road leads straight to the building, but you will completely circle the Harbor Tower to end up back at the side facing Bab Al Bahrain where the Visitor Parking entrance is located.

After taking the elevator to the third floor, follow the signs to pointing left through the dark offices to enter the gallery.

A Conversation with Loraine Todd on Hooks, Books and Feathers

Loraine Todd RE

Artist Loraine Todd will host an informal discussion at the Waterline Gallery Thursday, May 9th at 6:30pm.  She will chat about her inspiration for her pieces included in the RE exhibit .

My relationship with Loraine began over clay.  You might have met her behind a camera, dressing a mannequin or digging through salvage yards.  You see, Loraine’s creativity is only constrained by her day job.  It seems she has her fingers in a bit of everything.

Her eye has a way of taking what already is and reflecting it back into the world through a different lens.  For Thursday evening, she has chosen a few excerpts from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing to help explain how she came to view Art.

Come to the Waterline Gallery Thursday evening for a chat.  You may leave with a changed perspective about …. everything.

bird in the hand is worth two in the bush loraine todd


Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Loraine has traveled extensively and lived in numerous countries worldwide. Loraine studied photography at Auckland University.  She then went on to study textiles and ceramics as well as Art Therapy at Goldsmiths University, London, UK. She has taken part in exhibitions as both a curator and/or an artist as well as set/ prop design for various theatrical productions.


“John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the (London) Sunday Times critic commented: “This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings… he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures.” By now he has.” – Penguin Books

“Controversial at the time – its focus on the tacit ideologies of Old Masters and led one critic to liken it to “Mao’s Little Red Book for a generation of art students” – it’s now regarded not only as a landmark work of British arts broadcasting, but as a key moment in the democratisation of art education. Its 40th anniversary has been marked at a series of public talks and at a major Berger conference at King’s College London.” – Guardian


3rd Floor of the Harbour Mall, Bahrain Financial Harbour.  To enter Visitor Parking, follow the road as it circles ALL the buildings back around to the front.  Keep asking security for directions.

April the Month of Earthquakes and Art

Earthquakes in Iran

Iran’s 6.3 earthquake and the 7.8 “after-shock” today were felt all the way around the Gulf.

“Why are we feeling them?  What’s does this herald?,” people are asking.

Focusing on the positive, perhaps all the art exhibits opening this month in Bahrain are causing the excitement.

RE exhibit

AWA Visons 2013

Divine Feminine at World Beat Fitness

Big Red House Exhibit  April 27

extraordinary ordinary at la fontaine invite

Rachel Gadsden’s Public Art

Rachel Gadsden al riwaq gallery bahrain

Sometimes the most extraordinary things come from a little push.

“Do you want to go?  Do you?  Okay, let’s do it.  I’ll get dressed and leave in five minutes.”

This was the conversation my friend and I had to go through to motivate ourselves to attend artist, Rachel Gadsden’s live painting exhibit.

3×3 meter canvases hung on the wall outside the Al Riwaq Gallery.  I found an empty seat next to my friend, artist Lena Dajani and settled in to watch the show.

Rachel Gadsden, dressed head to toe in black with pink trainers, started sketching a couple of figures using charcoal. She turned to the audience,

“I need some help to create this work.  Who would like to join me?”

I admired her courage.  First, painting in front of a group must be a bit like speech making; one of the top ten things people dislike doing.  Secondly, she did not know how much effort it took to motivate the self-conscious, mostly young, female audience, wearing hijab to trade their phones for a paint brush.

I grabbed a tissue from the passing waitress and got busy munching the chicken avocado sandwish.  I encouraged my young, thirteen-year old friend to get up and paint.  She suddenly discovered the chocolate cake and busied her hands.

A young man, wearing a backpack, was walking by.  Hearing Rachel, he looked at the staring, waiting crowd and volunteered.  Given a palette of paint, he began swirling color around the canvas.  After a few minutes, he turned to us and asked, “Who would like to go next?”

Eventually a couple of European ladies got up and painted. As I watched the combination of grey-blue, orange, red and teal cover the canvas, I wondered how the artist would pull it all together.

Two of the four canvases completed, Rachel started on the third canvas.  The young girls around me would not go up.  Finally, I could not wait any longer.  I grabbed a paint brush and started painting curves and circles.   As I painted, Rachel Gadsden explained to the audience how honored she felt when Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall had been at the opening of her exhibit “This Breathing World” at Katara Cultural Village for the Arts and Disability Festival in Doha.

Rachel Gadsden Painting in Adliya

I barely heard her.  It was so FUN painting without fear, free from any worry what the end result would look like.  I let the color move itself across the canvas.  I could have continued longer, but felt obliged to share the joy and sat down.

Rachel asked, “Can someone come up and write some words in Arabic.  I would love to have my experience being here in the Middle East as part of the painting.”

I told the girls around me, “See I went up.  Now you have to go.”

“I do not know what word to write,” they claimed.

“Peace, love, happiness, breath,” I suggested.  “Ocean, sun.”

We continued back and forth.  I could not convince them to go up by themselves.  Finally I said, “You help me to write moon in Arabic.”

“Which moon do you want to write?” the young woman,wearing square glasses, asked me. “Hilal is the small crescent moon.  It is masculine.  Or the full moon, that is feminine.”

“The feminine,” I said.

Together we went up to the canvas.  She said, “I will move your hand and you can write it.”

I held the charcoal and she guided me through moon.  As soon as the word was done, she left me to color it in.  By the time I relinquished the palette, the paintings were nearly complete.

Returning to my chair, I encouraged my young friend to add a word before the session ended.  She began consulting the Bahraini girls.  Purses were opened, pens were located, and finally a scratch paper was torn from the memo pad.  Thanking the young women, she rushed to the canvas and wrote her word across the bottom.

“What did you write?” asked Rachel.

Rachel Gadsden final painting with courage in adliya_edited-1

“Courage” she smiled, her braces showing.

That’s what Art does.  It gives us courage to engage our neighbors, linking us together despite the differences in culture and abilities.  And it only takes the vision of one person, someone like Rachel Gadsden, to motivate us to find shared beauty within the multi-colored mess of our world.

About Rachel Gadsden

Contemporary artist, Rachel Gadsden, is the Director of Unlimited Global Alchemy

Her exhibit This Breathing World is about experiencing disabling conditions and fighting for life in the face of social taboos.   It includes drawings, paintings and films, and 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.

Unlimited Global Alchemy was one of the thirteen commissions awarded during the second round for Unlimited is the ground-breaking programme that celebrates arts and culture by disabled and deaf artists.  Funded by the Olympic Lottery Distributor, 820,000 pounds was granted to artists for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  Unlimited Global Alchemy is one of three commissions in round two who created in collaboration with international partners and with funding contributed by the British Council.   Unlimited is delivered in partnership between London 2012, Arts Council England, the Scottish Arts Council, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

You can see her photos, which are much better than mine, on her tumblr account and learn more about her on her website.

About the British Council

The British Council sponsors artists who come to Bahrain and offers free classes to anyone who wants to sign up.  Meant to help encourage art within the local community, my experience is I show up and usually there is an open seat.  I take one and suddenly meet the most extraordinary people.

Rachel Gadsden’s visit is being sponsored by the British Council and the Al Riwaq Gallery.

Hey Sexy Owl

Letters to Ishtar 3

Recently the newspaper reported that women in downtown Manama were being harassed by tourists.  The tourists were assuming all women walking along this particular street were “women of the night”.  One woman said the men in their cars, slowly drove by and called out, “Hey sexy owl.”

I did not understand the owl reference and have been asking Arab people whether they could explain it.  No one had an answer for me.  It was after stepping into the Al Riwaq Gallery to see Letters to Ishtar that I realized the source of this very ancient, owl reference.

Ishtar from Babylonia British_Museum_Queen_of_the_Night from Wikipedia

Ishtar, was the great Babylonian Goddess.  The Bible referred to her as Ashtoreth and the Mother of Harlots.  One of her symbols was the owl.  In many depictions, she held a staff made of intertwined snakes, the caduceus’ precursor.

“With exultation in my supremacy, with exultation do I, a Goddess, walk supreme; Ishtar, the Goddess of the evening, am I; Ishtar, the Goddess of morning, am I; Ishtar who opens the portals of heaven, in my supremacy.” – Poems to Ishtar.

HAR meant temple of women and Harine referred to the female. spiritual rulers in Ishtar’s city, Uruk, in ancient Iraq.  Bahrain’s story intertwines with Ishtar’s because she wanted to marry Gilgamesh.  Gilgamesh refused her proposal.  Enraged, she sent her heavenly bull to kill him.  Gilgamesh, helped by his friend Enkidu, killed the bull and threw its thigh at her face.

Letters to Ishtar 2

Using poetry, painting, collage and sculpture, Iraqi artist, Himat Mohamed Ali has created a dialogue about this ancient Goddess.  It is on display at Al Riwaq through April 24th as part of the Spring of Culture.  It is an interesting opportunity to explore how the ancient past continues to exist within the region’s subconscious.

Karibu Tanzania Exhibit Opens March 2 at World Beat in Bahrain

Lena W Dajani Karibu Tanzania Bahrain 2013

Lena Dajani Karibu Tanzania Spring of Culture 2013

A Taste of Africa In Bahrain

Lena W Dajani Karibu Tanzania Bahrain 2013

During the Spring of Culture, Lena W Dajani, an artist and my friend, is having her first solo exhibit at World Beat Fitness starting March 2, 2013.

 Karibu Tanzania is Swahili for “Welcome to Tanzania”.

The beauty of Tanzania’s vibrant landscapes and people are the subject of Lena’s first solo exhibit.  Between 2008 –2010, Lena and her family lived in Dar Es Salam.  She immediately fell in love with the city, its idyllic setting on the Indian Ocean and tropical landscape.  From Dar Es Salaam, the family explored the shores of Zanzibar, sailed the Indian Ocean, and took numerous safari trips to the country’s national parks.  Traveling through the Ngorongoro Crater, Manyara, Serengeti, Amani, Saadani, Bongoyo, Mbudya and Ruaha reserves, she captured the family adventures.  This exhibit was created from her thousands of photos.

Lena was a member of Artist Seana Mallen’s Awali Arts.  Under Seana’s artistic guidance, her painting developed from a hobby to a commitment to create unique artwork drawing from her global experiences.  A busy mother, she currently works with watercolor and acrylic painting that allows her to quickly and effectively re-create and capture her impressions.

Private collectors in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tanzania have purchased Lena’s paintings.  She created a line of greeting cards and has presented her art work in several local exhibitions.

  • Bahrain International Garden Show (2007 & 2008) with the Awali Arts
  • Desert Designs, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia (2007)
  • Art House Open Studios, Bahrain (2008)
  • BAPCO’s 2012 First Annual Art competition, Bahrain (2012)

Karibu Tanzania will continue through March at World Beat.  However, if you can, on the opening day, stop by to meet and chat with Lena.  Her conversations range from Islamic art, Edward Tingatinga’s paintings, African safaris, Bali artists, high-tea in London, camping trips in Oman, Middle East politics, recipes from Gourmet magazine or family tennis tournaments in the south of France.  Her passport may say American, but she is a true Global Citizen and her art is inspired by global culture.

You can LIKE Lena on FACEBOOK.

Lena Dajani Karibu Tanzania Spring of Culture 2013

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