Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center,
At San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas
Now – Saturday, March 31
Daily 9 am – 5 pm . Ecke Building
Back by popular demand, these beautiful, hand-woven, one-of-a-kind garden-themed tapestries from the Rameses Wissa Wassef Art Center in Giza, Egypt will be on display in the Ecke Building at San Diego Botanic Garden daily January 8 – March 31, 2018 from 9 am – 5 pm.
The Egyptian artists in this exhibit vividly celebrate the flowers of the desert, villages and Nile River in their work. These tapestries are available for purchase with most of the proceeds going to support the artists – many of whom work on these tapestries for up to 2 years! Last year, these tapestries almost completely sold out. Come early for the best selection.
These tapestries are the legacy of an “experiment in creativity” begun in 1952 by leading Egyptian architect Ramses Wissa Wassef. He was convinced that everyone is born with artistic gifts but that these develop only through practicing a craft from early childhood. To test his theory, Wissa Wassef installed looms in a workshop in the village of Harrania, 6 miles from Cairo and invited village children to learn to weave. When they had grasped the basic technique he encouraged them to depict whatever they liked, laying down only three rules: No copying, No preliminary designs, No adult interference or criticism. His experiment rapidly demonstrated that any child is able to create works of staggering beauty and skill, confirming that innate creativity can grow with a child into adolescence and adulthood.
Since Ramses’ death in 1974, his widow Sophie and daughters Suzanne and Yoanna have expanded the experiment. Under their guidance several further generations of children have now mastered weaving. Currently, 30 adult wool and cotton weavers are actively work at the Art Centre in Egypt. This project has a strong impact on the community. It transformed the lives of the villagers, bringing prosperity, education, better health, self-respect and satisfaction to all and high status and equality to the women.
Fifteen wool tapestries and twenty cotton weavings will be on display in the Ecke Building at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Wall signs, books and a short documentary present the making of the tapestries and the aspirations of founder Ramses Wissa Wassef are also part of this educational and artistic display. All the tapestries are unique and woven by individual artists, whom work for up to 4 months on each tapestry. The Egyptian sheep wool is dyed with traditional vegetable dyes that are planted in the gardens of the art centre in Giza.
“The San Diego Botanic Garden has proven to be a perfect venue for the display of art,” said Julian Duval, President and CEO of San Diego Botanic Garden. “We are extremely pleased to be the first public garden to display these unique plant- and garden-themed tapestries and share them with our visitors from the San Diego region and beyond.”
Cost: Free with paid Garden admission or membership.
About the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre, Giza, Egypt
Since 1952 southwest of Cairo, Egypt, the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre have been home of a unique experiment in tapestry weaving. The founder and architect Ramses Wissa Wassef (1911-1974) was dedicated to releasing the innate creativity of young Egyptian villagers freed from the constraints of a formal education. Exhibitions of the weavings have been presented at the Smithsonian in the USA and many museums in Europe. Today, the 12 acre Harrania village campus includes studios for 30-40 artists in textiles, a ceramic studio, two museums and fields growing madder and reseda for dyes. The Art Centre is open to visitors free of charge on the road to the Sakkara pyramid complex.