Colouring book series by Warehouse421 aims to introduce children to UAE creatives

Called 'Colorful Leaps', the series comprises 13 books, which are available in English and Arabic

The 'Colorful Leaps' series was illustrated by Alia AlHammadi with stories written by Tracy Gray. Photo: Warehouse 421
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A colouring book series launched by Warehouse421 aims to introduce children, as well as their parents, to figures in the local creative industry.

With illustrations ready to be shaded into, Colorful Leaps tells anecdotes of different artists and creatives. The books includes biographical references of their lives in relation to the UAE as well as insights into their artistic practice.

A colouring book about poet Farah Chamma in Warehouse421's 'Colorful Leaps' series. Photo: Warehouse421

The series comprises 13 books, which are available in English and Arabic. The books were illustrated by Alia AlHammadi with stories written by Tracy Gray.

The book features: artist Hashel Lamki; singer Rashed Al Nuaimi, the collective Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian; artist Shaikha Al Ketbi; designer Abdullah Al Mulla; writer Maryam Al Dabbagh; artist Zahra Jawanji; designer Aljoud Lootah; curator Munira Al Sayegh; urbanists Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib; photographer Mohamed Somji; fashion designer Engy Mehdi; and poet Farah Chamma.

“Having [artists'] stories merged with a colouring book is an informal way to engage young audiences with the industry,” says Dana Al Mazrouei, who oversees and manages Warehouse421's education initiatives.

In an effort to be relatable to young audiences, the stories focus on childhood memories and explore the roots of creativity.

“We had a series of interviews that were aimed at digging deeper into their childhood, their upbringing, and what their inspirations were,” Al Mazrouei says.

“Farah Chamma spoke about playing football as a kid. Maryam Dabbagh spoke about telling stories to her family as a child. These were the entry points that we found were exciting for children to hear how that can progress into a career.”

The illustrations, on the other hand, were inspired by photographs the creative practitioners shared with the Colorful Leaps team.

The 'Colorful Leaps' book series launched simultaneously with an eponymous initiative to present children’s workshops across the UAE that are led by local artists and creatives. Photo: Warehouse 421

“It was fascinating how it all came together,” Al Mazrouei says. “We built the story, collaged these images, tailored in the illustrations by [AlHammadi], who has never actually met the creative practitioners.

The Colorful Leaps series launched simultaneously with an eponymous initiative to present children’s workshops across the UAE that are led by local artists and creatives.

“The series doesn’t exist on its own,” Al Mazrouei says. “It's supported by a programme by Warehouse421 that isn’t confined to the warehouse. We’re really going out to the community and building that awareness of the creative industry.”

The programme has already held a number of workshops at the Cultural Foundation and the House of Wisdom in Abu Dhabi, and at Quoz Arts Fest in Dubai.

A colour book depicting curator Munira Al Sayegh's childhood is part of the 'Colourful Leaps' series by Warehouse 421. Photo: Warehouse 421

“We’ve done a session at House of Wisdom with Farah Chamma,” Al Mazrouei says. “There was this fascination with children that she’s real, not just a hypothetical story. That engagement was funny to see. We had Hashel Lamki come into Warehouse421. It was the same thing. There was an automatic attachment to the story and to the figure himself.”

The education manager said she hopes to have all the practitioners featured in the the series of books lead a workshop. The colouring book series is also likely to be continued, with issues being released to showcase new and rising talents.

“There is a need, an appetite,” Al Mazrouei says. “We’re interested to see what’s next. How this can create not just different stories, but what kind of programming comes out of it, so that it isn’t a standalone.”

The books from the Colorful Leaps series are available to purchase at Warehouse 421. Copies are also being also sold at school book fairs. “We’re pushing for other cultural institutions to have these stories as well.”

The books cost Dh20 each, a bundle of six costs Dh90 and a complete set costs for Dh195.

More information is available at at warehouse421.ae

Updated: April 11, 2022, 3:34 PM