An artist residency supported by Shape has resulted in an exhibition exploring disability, Islamic art, and the relationships between the two.

Qatar residency - group photo of the artists

As January 2015 drew to a close and the rest of the Shape team were polishing off the last few crisps at the Open closing party, Shape Exhibitions Coordinator Ben Fredericks was starting a 4000 mile journey to join a group of Shape artists in Doha, Qatar. 

These artists have been involved in a joint initiative from the British Council and Sasol to encourage discussion around diversity and access. Shape's role has included helping to facilitate an artist residency and exhibition featuring the seven disabled artists – five international and two local. The two week residency enabled them to carry out intensive research into the diverse collection at the Museum of Islamic Art, and to develop works in response to this.

“Shape has been supporting the artists throughout the project,” Ben explains, “from giving critical feedback and assisting with access requirements, to being involved with the curation of the exhibition.”

Qatar residency - artists receive critical feedback

These will be showcased in an exhibition entitled ‘Ilham إلهام ‘ (inspiration), which will explore the journey of the residency by displaying works from the artists’ usual creative practice alongside the newly commissioned works influenced by the MIA collection.  ‘Ilham’ is designed to complement 'Definitely Able', a conference from Sasol, the British Council and key Qatari partners in the field of inclusion and diversity, which will address issues of disability and policy-making in the Middle East. 

“The artists really challenged themselves,” Ben continues, “not only by embracing the opportunity to introduce the art and history of a different culture into their own work, but by producing original, thought-provoking works under a time pressure.”

Ben and the artists will be travelling out to Doha again later this month to install the exhibition, ready for the launch on 17 March 2015.

Juan delGardo making work at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Click here to find out more about the conference and exhibition. Click here to read a blog by Shape artist Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings and her experience from the residency.

Many sessions from the Definitely Able conference were live streamed - below you can watch panel discussions involving Shape artists and allies including Rachel Gadsden and David Hevey. Click here to watch the recorded sessions.

An award winning video, 'Voices', was made during the conference, featuring artists Shape supported. View the video below.

Click here to explore more of our international work. 

Banner image: The artists look out across the skyline in Doha
Top image: The artists and the residency team
Inset images: Artist Juan DelGado receives feedback; and making work at the MIA

Images by Mohamad Al Hamoud and Mohamad Al Fawal.