Under the visionary guidance of its Chairperson, H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums (QM) has announced an exciting new partnership with oil and gas exploration and production company Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd. (Oxy Qatar).
The partnership makes Oxy Qatar the ‘Principal Sponsor’ of QM’s Fire Station “Artist in Residence”, a unique new programme designed to support artists in Qatar from a range of different disciplines and provide a hub for creative exchange.
Oxy Qatar has long proven its support to Qatar Museums’ activities and initiatives, having sponsored high profile exhibitions in previous years including both Mal Lawal exhibitions and Hey ‘Ya: Arab Women in Sports.
The company is also helping to connect the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art at Qatar Foundation, through its continued sponsorship of the MIA-Mathaf Shuttle Bus service, which aims to increase awareness and patronage of Mathaf, whilst adding value to the MIA experience.
Commenting on the announcement, Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud, CEO at Qatar Museums said: “It is with great pleasure that we announce our partnership with Oxy Qatar today. The Fire Station Artist in Residence programme perfectly reflects Qatar Museums’ vision of enriching the lives of all those who live in and visit Qatar, and this development will help to support the growing vibrant local arts scene as well as provide a space for emerging young artists to thrive and flourish. This partnership is a significant step forward in strengthening our existing relationship with Oxy Qatar and will further enhance the capabilities of both of our organisations as well as help to support Qatar’s progress as an artistic and cultural hub.”
Since 2012, QM has been renovating the old Civil Defence Building (commonly known as the old Fire Station) in preparation for hosting the new “Artist in Residence” programme. To honour the heritage and traditions of the past while embracing the future, QM has sought to preserve the original façade of the building and recycle many of its features, allowing the original integrity of the building to remain intact.
Following today’s announcement, preparations for the programme will continue apace ahead of commencing in September 2015. Between now and then, the emerging artists will be chosen through a carefully managed selection and decision-making process involving an independent jury. Initially spanning a period of nine months, the programme will host 20 artists from a range disciplines such as art, photography, design and architecture.
The building will be home to 24 studios and a gallery space for exhibitions and community interaction. Twenty studios will be open to those artists selected to join the residency, whilst four will be reserved for visiting artists. In this way, the residency programme will involve mentoring and tutoring from respected local artists and provide residents with the opportunity to benefit from the experience of some of the big international names that Qatar Museums continually attracts to Qatar. These have previously included Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, Takashi Murakami and Damian Hirst. Residents will also have access to world class curators, art historians and professors.
Hala Al Khalifa, Director of the Fire Station, said: “I am delighted to announce our partnership with Oxy Qatar to the public, as this guarantees the continued success of our ground-breaking Fire Station “Artist in Residence” Programme. By building on the strong relationship that Qatar Museums and Oxy Qatar have cultivated in recent years, this partnership will provide a solid foundation from which we can nurture and support creative and artistic talent and represent Qatar in the international cultural community.”
The Fire Station premises will also feature public attractions such as a park, library, an arts and crafts shop, a cinema, a plaza and a restaurant, all designed to foster an interactive environment and engage the local community.
Mr. Stephen Kelly, President and General Manager of Oxy Qatar, added: “Oxy Qatar is delighted to continue its long-established partnership with Qatar Museums. We are proud to support the establishment of this unique multi-faceted project – creating a studio environment in which artists can meet, work and exchange ideas; an exhibition space to showcase work created here and elsewhere; facilities, infrastructure and public spaces to support those in residence as well as the wider community; and doing all this by re-imagining the use of an existing, iconic structure, renovated by a Qatari architect. The Artist in Residence program completes an interconnected and interdependent ecosystem that we are confident will enhance public awareness and appreciation of local art and cultural heritage.”
The Doha Fire Station was built in 1982 as a Civil Defence building. The building was occupied by the fire brigade until late 2012 when the building was handed over to Qatar Museums for preservation and conservation and to sensitively recycle elements of the original architecture.