Riyadh truffle festival serves up a ‘fungi town’ treat

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: An art exhibition titled “Find Me Through the Fog” highlights the crises of the forest fires in Abha in 2020 through the work of eight local artists.

The exhibition, which opened on March 19 and runs until April 9, takes place in the historic Al-Muftaha village in Abha.

It showcases different aspects of the forest ecosystem, and the outcome of the fires.

Hatem Al-Ahmad, a multidisciplinary artist participating in the exhibition, told Arab News: “The driving force for the work and the project, in general, is, for me at least, how to take a positive stance with nature that surrounds us, especially the forests.

“I had the important question, as an artist: Can I be a person who thinks after the event? In my work I don’t care about what happened in the past, I care about how we act in the present and what is our responsibility towards this environment.”

The fires destroyed an area of more than 4.7 million square meters before being brought under control by the Saudi Civil Defense. Tens of thousands of perennial trees — including wild olives, neems, junipers, and acacias, some of which were more than 50 years old — were destroyed.

Through his work presented in the exhibition, Al-Ahmad said: “I tried to invent, or to take an external practice related to, agricultural engineering or garden practices, and insert them as an element to help the trees recover faster.

“I worked with a two-part compound, one called copper sulfate, and the other calcium hydroxide compound; once combined with each other, it gives us something to help the trees recover from the cracks, the fires, and the damage done, and help speed up the healing process,” he said.

“I felt that I had to stand a positively with our surrounding environment and help with its recovery. ”

The exhibition is part of the Visual Arts Commission’s effort to provide local artists with the platform to shed light on environmental challenges surrounding the forests ecosystem, with the aim of raising awareness of the impacts resulting from the fires, and the importance of conservation efforts to preserve the forests in the region.

“When you’re on a visit to the fire location or you’re looking at these fires, you can feel the pain that an important part of the environment, the forests, is missing or parts of it. I felt it was our responsibility as artists to focus on the concept of the accident and what happened to the forests but with different points of view,” said Al-Ahmad.

“My point of view was whether I, as an artist, could provide two types of service, a community service that supports in raising the awareness among the volunteers who were part of the recovery project, and the second part was, as an artist, I have the ability to show solidarity and compassion with my environment. And I was able to accomplish the two concepts throughout this project,” he added.

The exhibition also showcases the work of artists Mohammed Al-Faraj, Alaa Tarbzouni, Fahad bin Nayef, Ayman Zedani, Saeed Gabaan, Aziz Jamal, and Reem Al-Nasser. It includes a children’s digital catalog designed by local artist Sara Abdu.

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