Art gallery joins with food programme to highlight world hunger

The United Nations World Food Programme and The Farjam Collection Gallery have launched an exhibit to help fight hunger, featuring artworks by Middle Eastern artists.

Artworks at the Farjam Collection Gallery. Lee Hoagland / The National
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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is continuing to work extensively with the art community in the UAE to encourage donations for its projects and to raise awareness on various issues.

Over the next two months, the WFP is collaborating with The Farjam Collection Gallery at DIFC to put the spotlight on hunger – the result of which can be seen through 32 pieces of art donated by emerging and established Middle Eastern artists. The exhibition, titled Aware, runs until March 7.

Aware was unveiled during the Art Nights @ Gate Village event on Sunday and includes an array of paintings, calligraphy, sculptures and photographs. The exhibition features 24 Iranian artists including Ahmad Esfandiari, the renowned painter, the children's book illustrator Parviz Kalantari and the multimedia artist Faride Lashayi.

The public is also invited to an auction in March, after the exhibition concludes. Proceeds will go to the WFP’s operations to assist those fighting impoverishment and malnutrition.

“Artists are, in a way, messengers,” says Elise Bijon, the partnerships and business development manager for WFP. “These Middle Eastern artists have come together with one shared vision – to help free the world from hunger. It’s very magical, selfless and they are heroes.”

With the support of the artists and several Dubai galleries, the WFP is able to have access to decision makers and donors that can help with their causes. “We feel that while we help to feed bodies, art feeds the soul, so it works together very well,” says Bijon. The Farjam Collection has long been interested in educational programmes and philanthropy, so when the idea to collaborate with the WFP presented itself, it was a “perfect opportunity”, according to its collection and exhibition coordinator, Austin Hamilton.

“Art is a vehicle for communication and it raises emotions without being confrontational or too political,” says Hamilton. “And through art, the positive side of the Middle East is also shown.”