Under the guidance of Qatar Museums Chairperson H E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums officially launched the new Fire Station building and its Artists in Residence programme as well as the inaugural ‘555’ exhibition, in Doha yesterday. The event was attended by Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari.
DOHA: Qatar Museums (QM) officially launched the new Fire Station building, ‘Artists in Residence’ programme and the inaugural ‘555’ exhibition yesterday.
H E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson, QM, was present.
Since 2012, a QM team has been working on renovating the old Civil Defence Building (commonly known as the old Fire Station) in preparation for hosting the new ‘Artist in Residence’ programme.
It preserved the original façade to honour the heritage and traditions and recycled many features, keeping the original integrity of the building intact.
The ‘Artist in Residence’ programme is scheduled to commence in September and will continue for nine months.
It includes 20 artists from various disciplines, including art, photography, design, architecture, among others. It has received more than 150 applications to date. The programme will first be open to Qatari artists and residents of Qatar and later to regional artists.
“It’s a great pleasure to witness the opening of the new Fire Station building today. This building has served the community very well in the past 30 years and will now continue to do so in a different context,” said Hala Al Khalifa, Director, Fire Station.
“The Artist in Residence perfectly reflects QM’s vision of enriching the lives of all those who live in and visit Qatar. Through this residency programme, we hope to nurture and support a vibrant local art scene and give young and emerging artists a shared space to experiment, create, grow and flourish.”
The 555 exhibition was launched in tribute to ‘The Art Centre’, the first artist in residence initiative that took place in Doha in the early 1990s and ran for a decade.
Curated by H E Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani, the exhibition aims to showcase a pivotal era in the development of arts not only in Qatar, but also the region. “Our measure of success as a residency is to see how young artists we support will be able to ‘fly away into the world’ and be continuously creative.
“At the end of their nine months, we hope they will have developed and honed their artistic identity and voice and that we will be able to introduce them to opportunities, contacts and openings to enable them to manage their art, get themselves noticed and help cultivate a career,” said Al Khalifa.
Equipped to host the 20 artists selected to join the Fire Station, the building is home to 24 studios and a gallery space for exhibitions and community interaction.
Twenty studios will be open to these artists, while four will be reserved for visiting artists.
The Fire Station will also feature a park, a library, an arts and crafts shop, a cinema, a plaza, and a restaurant to foster an interactive environment and engage the local community.
The residency programme will also offer the 20 artists weekly mentoring programmes, and access to QM, special exhibitions, lectures and QM’s curators.
The Fire Station was built in 1982 for Civil Defence. The building had been occupied by the fire brigade until late 2012 when it was handed over to QM for preservation and conservation and recycling elements of the original architecture.