Young artists' work goes on show at mall

An art exhibition of sculptures and paintings by school pupils with special needs will allow the public to glimpse their artistic talent.

Six special needs children from four schools are displaying their work at Al Jimi Mall exhibition in Al Ain.
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AL AIN // An art exhibition of sculptures and paintings by school pupils with special needs will allow the public to glimpse their artistic talent. The collection of 35 paintings and 15 sculptures represents the culmination of several months of hard work by blind, autistic and other special needs children, and their teachers. Six boys from four schools are displaying their work at the Al Jimi Mall exhibition.

Despite being blind, Faisal Ali al Mugbali, 13, painted 19 of the 35 paintings. A pupil at Azem bin Thabit School, his stencil artworks portray his love for the UAE, its culture and heritage, with the Emirati flag appearing in most. The majority of his paintings are landscapes of well-known Al Ain landmarks, such as Jebel Hafeet, the forts and sand dunes. It took him five months to complete his collection.

"It is nice to take part in this exhibit," said Faisal. "I feel proud. Everybody is saying good things about my paintings." Brothers Hamdan and Nasser Mohammed al Balooshi, 16 and 13, are also blind, but between them both, created more than 10 paintings in the exhibit, with the help of their teacher at Ma'awi bin Abu Sufyan School, Taher Ahmad. "The boys use their fingers to paint, they feel the canvas to know where the next stroke should be," said Mr Ahmad.

"Hamdan can barely see further than 10cm and even then everything is blurred. He can distinguish colours but to find where he should draw the next line, he needs me to place his finger in the right spot and then he feels his way from there." Their colourful work prominently features flowers and family images. As guests, organisers and members of the media went back and forth, with cameras flashing, Hamad Mohammed al Amri, 15, sat alone in the corner, not speaking with anyone. In front of him was a box of oil pastels and a photo of the late Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa. Detached from the distractions around him, in under an hour he had drawn portraits of the nation's Founder and President.

Sharif Mohammed al Balooshi, the principal of Mo'awiya School and the organiser of the multi-school exhibition, watched Hamad draw. "This young man has autism, but if he just looks at your face for a couple of minutes, he can draw you brilliantly without looking at you a second time," he said. About 40 people attended the opening of the exhibition yesterday, including Salem Abdulaziz al Kathiri, head of Al Ain Educational Zone, and Ibrahim Abdelal, its supervisor of special needs education.

"It is most important to involve children with special needs in order to give them exposure, not make them feel isolated," said Mr Abdelal. "They have lots of abilities and, in some areas, exceed the abilities of non-special needs children." The exhibition, on the upper level of the mall, runs for one week. @Email:ealghalib@thenational.ae