Our story may be familiar to you. From everywhere and nowhere, our ‘third culture kid’ syndrome has always left us questioning this idea of having a ‘sense of belonging’ and why it’s so important. Of Palestinian/Lebanese origins, and no particular place to call ‘home’, we are sisters who find home in people and expression.
Christina is a creative soul, an Innovative Spatial Designer by trade and has long understood the importance of space and its effect on people’s interactions. This led her to use Design as a tool to create meaningful experiences within events and urban environments.
Tanya believes in humanity and nature and essentially finds it important that the two thrive harmoniously. A sustainability and events coordinator by trade, Tanya strives to embrace the best possible ways of building efficient and resilient communities- through events and various forms of art.
What is Blank Canvas initiative and how did it all start?
Blank Canvas Community is a Communal Art initiative, where people come together to collaborate on the same art piece. We use different artistic mediums like paint, markers, etc. as tools to open visual dialogues amongst people from all walks of life, to get creative together, build on each other’s artwork and (re)build Community.
How it all began…
It has been a long road, across continents. From France (inception) to Melbourne (implementation) to Abu Dhabi (action), it all started with a simple little game to pass time on a long 9 hour drive across France. We decided to share a notebook and draw on the same page and fell in love with the idea of shared ownership and building on one another’s creative expression.
It was from then that we realised that collaborative art was much more than creating something beautiful, it was even much more than Art itself. It was a process of complete acceptance; unlearning/re-learning what you thought you knew, sharing a common space, contributing to something bigger and forming a unified story.
Once we realized the fulfilment that was instilled inside of us we knew we had to share this magic. Soon after our travels we returned to our home in Melbourne, Australia and shared the game with our housemates, friends and an Art Organization we were working with at the time. We sat one evening, 13 of us, drawing on one page and had a great time sharing and passing around the notebook from one person to another, watching the artwork evolve as it moved around the circle.
The next morning everyone woke up feeling inspired from the collaborative art experience, we felt that we needed to share it with the wider community. So we decided to launch an event called ‘Blank Canvas’, we covered all the walls of our warehouse in canvas, contacted local musicians and poets and had our wonderful chef housemate cook up a feast, and watched the night unfold. It was a beautiful collaboration of music, poetry, painting and food. We witnessed professional artists, amateurs and people from all walks of life mingling, exchanging and empowering each other to create; to express. Something happened that night, it felt like something was being built, we were creating a world that was safe for each of us to express ourselves freely through art and rhythm, and that resulted in a collective expression that was so powerful.
It was then that we imagined that Blank Canvas can become a portal for creative freedom for communities around the world. With an aim to make amends with our lost focus on the importance of community empowerment, through reawakening creativity within individuals while inspiring one another to come together, interact and express ourselves collectively through Art.
Little did we know that months later, we were packing up our lives in Australia to revisit our birthplace- Abu Dhabi; life taking its unexpected turns as it does. We must say, it has been a privilege to be in Abu Dhabi and watch Blank Canvas Community receive such a warm welcome, we’ve been operating for almost two years in Abu Dhabi and a total of three years since starting our events in Melbourne, Australia. We are so grateful to be where we are and so excited to be a part of a growing creative community in the UAE.
Tell us about your workshop with Inner Seed on December 9th
The Heart Chakra is your energy centre is about connecting with your inner world and outer world and your ability to give and receive Love. When you are connected to this you feel deeply connected to all that surrounds you, looking through the eyes of beauty and wonder. We are Love at the essence, and we have the capacity to Love all that is, because all that is is an expression of the whole. What seems to you as separate to yourself is merely your thought about it, but in reality we are all but vessels that transport the Divine. Together we will re-awaken what is already known inside of you. Re-awaken to your essence, re-awaken to your beauty, reconnect with your heart and radiate Love to everything and everyone that comes your way.
We will gather around a blank canvas and express ourselves individually and collectively as we explore, unlock and realign the Heart Chakra. We will paint our vision, our perception of this theme and move around the canvas to build on one another’s artwork until we create a unified piece.
Simultaneously, during the 90 minute session we will remain mindful and keep returning to our breath when our mind wanders.
What are your main objectives in blank canvas
Our main objectives as Blank Canvas Community is to create a social activity that provides a platform for people to express themselves individually and collectively through Art revolving around a topic/theme; while opening a visual discussion between people where they can build on each other’s artwork. In parallel to that we provide emerging musicians and poets a platform to showcase their talent to the community.
Our vision is to tell one story through the voices and creative expressions of many. We do this by holding an exhibition at the end of each season to display all the artworks that were created over the months.
At the moment, we organise our own events and also collaborate with various companies and organizations to bring communal art activations.
We currently host 2 events/social gatherings, Expression Sessions and Creative Awareness gatherings which are multi-sensory events that offer communal Art, live music, poetry and food to all who join in. We do this by having people paint on one canvas, revolving around a certain theme while enjoying sounds from the UAE’s emerging musicians and poets.
Each session begins with a delicious meal, then we invite everyone to take their seats and reveal a topic at the beginning of the session and open the floor for discussion. The session then flows as people paint together on one canvas and swap seats around every 15 minutes and build upon each other’s artwork, whilst all this is happening the poets and musicians interpret and express the theme/topic in their own way as they entertain and inspire the attendees.)
What is ART to you?
Art is life, Life is Art.
Art is the fabric of our very existence, the outlet of all forms of expression; painting, music, spoken word, writing, dance, photography and film. We believe Art can be utilized in all aspects of life, but it really depends on your perception of reality.
Art helps reveal you to yourself, things that you probably never even noticed. It drives authenticity, it drives truth, your personal truth. Art is a sense of belonging, a deep connection to something greater and beyond! Art is caring for humanity, and addressing it in its limitless ways!
Now Communal Art is shared Art, Art that belongs to no one but belongs to everyone simultaneously!
We believe that we are responsible for one another and through collaborative Art, not only do we learn how to communicate with strangers, irrespective of language, we also learn how to share, embrace and help each other grow. We find our strengths through each other and through our strengths, we learn empathy and compassion- 2 vital ingredients of this existence that ensures our happiness and self-fulfilment!
How can art make us feel good?
Art promotes well-being in every way, it’s a form of expression, an outlet to unleash your innermost feelings that are repressed inside of you! We are creators at the essence, so taking part in any form of creation makes us feel good!
Do individuals have to be good at ” art” to join your initiative?
What we bring to the community is a space for total creative freedom, everyone is welcome, people of all walks of life, especially the ones that say ‘I can’t draw or paint’. The only thing you need is the will to try something new, an open mind and an open heart.
This experience of creative expression will help relieve any stored feelings inside of you and it will leave you feeling accomplished, connected, and peaceful. You will feel this deep sense of belonging, that you are part of something bigger and have contributed to the whole.