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Textiles: The Tentmakers of Cairo at Art in Action 2012

The Tentmakers of Cairo [Egypt]  

The Tent Makers of Cairo - Wall Hangings

Today sees the start of Art in Action a four-day annual celebration of art, artists and designers that has been running in the Oxfordshire countryside since 1977. Promoting diversity in creative disciplines, regions, and cultures participation is by invite only and sees about 400 artists, designer-makers, teachers, performers, and musicians demonstrating and selling their creations to art lovers. Grouped into sections according to discipline. In the Commonwealth Art section Chapungu Sculpture Park is showcasing the work of, and presenting demonstrations from some of Zimbabwe’s master stone sculptors.

Another section is the International Tent, which showcases artists drawn from across the globe and this year representing Africa is Jump for Timbuktu, an organisation that will be demonstrating traditional Tuareg silversmithing techniques presented by Mohamed Alher and Mohamed Almaloud; and artists who belong to the group of legendary Tentmakers of Cairo; Hosam Hanafy Ahmed Mahmoud and Tarek Abdelhay Hafez Abouelenin whose grandfather started their family’s tent-making tradition. Recently I have been hearing quite a bit about the Tentmakers of Cairo, whose intricately decorated wall hangings were traditionally used to decorate the interiors of majestic tent pavilions, known locally as suradeq.

The Tent Makers of Cairo - Wall Hangings

The Tent Makers of Cairo - Wall Hangings

[Image credits: The Tent Makers of Cairo, Wall Hangings Detail – Art in Action]

Tentmaking is an ancient craft traditionally passed down from father to son working in Cairo’s Street of Tentmakers, which is today one of the city’s last remaining roof-covered ancient streets. Traditionally the tents are plain on the outside, but upon entering you are greeted with floor to ceiling coverings filled with the exquisite patterns, colours and textures of painstakingly hand appliquéd cloth. Tentmaking is said to be a dying art, there used to be thousands of men creating the appliqué but this has gradually dwindled to little more than a hundred. Visitors to the area can purchase the wall hangings and coverings. Art in Action is an inspiring event and having taken part a couple of years ago, I came back rejuvenated.

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For further information about Art in Action visit: www.artinaction.org.uk 

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