Introduction to Farming II part of SB13 School, Kalba Art Centre, 2016. Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.


The year-long SB13 School is an important component in curator Christine Tohme’s expanded format for Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj. Focusing on crafts, culinary arts, digital arts, farming and music, with a particular emphasis on practical application and active participation, the SB13 School programme supplements and builds upon extensive Sharjah Art Foundation education programming, which seeks to encourage public engagement by cultivating creativity and enriching the cultural experiences of the local community. Rooted in the four keywords forming the conceptual framework of the biennial (i.e. water, crops, earth and the culinary),SB13 School programmes take place in Al Hamriyah, Kalba and Al Madam and explore the entire Emirate of Sharjah, drawing on the unique topographical features of the two coastlines as well as the farmland and desert areas in between.

Al Hamriyah
On the west coast of Sharjah, in the port town of Hamriyah, education programmes reference the keywords of water, crops and the culinary. Specifically highlighting the port location, a tour of Al Hamriyah Desalination Plant (5 January 2017) introduced over 40 participants to the process of treating seawater. Local plant forms were also studied in Botanical Impressions (24 December 2016), which taught 30 participants to create ink prints out of the various flora they had gathered in the locality, and Introduction to Gardening (26 December 2016), which introduced 38 children to selecting compost and tools and harvesting produce. Two additional workshops shed light on traditions of food preservation in the Gulf. The first saw 35 participants explore the medicinal and other uses of herbs and spices (3 January 2017), and the second, covering the preparation of maleh [traditional salted and spiced fish] (11 January, 2017), drew on the long history of fishing in the coastal regions of Sharjah.

In the town of Kalba, located on the east coast of Sharjah, the education programming addressed the keyword of earth. The first workshop involved an excursion to Kalba’s mountainous terrain, where 45 participants collected a variety of objects to create jewellery (12 November 2016). A second workshop, which explored different types of farming, introduced 32 participants to the crops best suited to UAE soil as well as the seasonal cycles for planting and harvesting (10 December 2016). Participants also had the opportunity to design the garden at Kalba Art Centre.

Al Madam
At Al Madam, the site of various farmsteads, the keywords of crops and earth forms the basis of the education programming. In one workshop, 30 participants learnt how to use leftover vegetables and fruits to create natural dyes, which were then used to colour fabrics (22 October 2016). A second workshop, held in collaboration with Al Madam Stables, saw 30 participants build an irrigation system powered by solar energy and install it at the stable farm (5 November 2016). Finally, a workshop organised at the ancient city of Mleiha saw 45 participants learn more about the evidence of early human civilisation at the site as well as its importance in local history, heritage and culture (28 January 2017). Exploring the natural features of Sharjah's central region, participants sketched the landscapes and the archaeology of the area.

About Sharjah Art Foundation:
Sharjah Art Foundation brings a broad range of contemporary art and cultural programmes to the communities of Sharjah, the UAE and the region. Since 2009 SAF has built on the history of cultural collaboration and exchange that began with the first Sharjah Biennial in 1993. Working with local and international partners, we create opportunities for artists and artistic production through our core initiatives that include the Sharjah Biennial, the annual March Meeting, residencies, production grants, commissions, exhibitions, research, publications and growing collection. Our education and public programmes focus on building recognition of the central role art can play in the life of a community by promoting public learning and a participatory approach to art. All our events are free and open to the public.

For more information about Sharjah Art Foundation, visit

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Media contacts:
Sharjah Art Foundation: Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa: T +971 6 544 4113 /
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