Hayy Learning (A Community Educational Platform in Hayy: Creative Hub – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

Accessibility | Diversity/ Inclusion
Various (four months to one year)
seminars, private and public lectures, workshops, focus groups and field trips
Hayy Learning is a community educational platform offering a diverse spectrum of bespoke courses, workshops, and fellowships across the creative landscape. The pilot programme was designed to respond to the needs of the Saudi arts scene and support emerging and upcoming Saudi-based artists in developing their skills and career-development, and tracing local and regional arts histories.
Hayy Jameel is developed and managed by Art Jameel as a dedicated arts complex and creative hub for Saudi Arabia. Hayy joins Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai – which opened in 2018 – in its efforts to build culture-oriented, connected communities. Hayy Learning is a community educational platform offering a diverse spectrum of bespoke courses, workshops, and fellowships across the creative landscape. Through strategic collaborations with Hayy Residents and local and international partners, Hayy Learning modules span beyond the scope of visual arts and cinema to areas including culinary arts, fashion, writing, and more. Following a lifelong-learning philosophy, Hayy Learning offers opportunities to all its community members from children and youth to art enthusiasts to seasoned practitioners. Previous Hayy Learning editions include: Hayy Learning – Navigating the Contemporary Art Scene (Sept-Dec 2019) Responding to the needs of Saudi’s visual arts scene, this inaugural intensive course included 15 artists, selected via a (hugely over-subscribed) Open Call; the programme featured the application of practical skills, plus industry knowledge and conceptual debates, delivered by Art Jameel’s in-house team plus local and international guest tutors, curators, lawyers, gallerists, writers, artists and project managers. Through this programme, Art Jameel aimed to equip artists with the know-how to take their practices to the next level and to help nurture Saudi’s growing, dynamic contemporary art landscape. The four-month-long programme was structured so that 3 modules are delivered over a combination of private and public lectures, seminars, workshops, focus groups and field trips. Three intensive, week-long sessions in September, October, and December 2019 were accompanied by digital resources and assignments. Sessions were delivered by local, regional and international guest speakers – artists, curators, gallerists, and other experts in their field – and supported by locally-based bilingual Art Jameel tutors, on a day-to-day basis. Navigating the Contemporary Art Scene was open to artists based in Saudi Arabia who were over the age of 24 and looking to develop a full-time career in the field. Candidates who held university degrees (where possible) and had strong, bilingual communication skills with passion about contemporary art, critical writing and art history were encouraged to apply. This dynamic, diverse group – from across Saudi, and from a variety of backgrounds and artistic practices – created an enriching, inter-generational and multidisciplinary dialogue. The participants included: Ahmed Sofi, Ammar Jimman, Ayman Daydban, Aziz Jamal, Balqis Al Rashed, Bashaer Hawsawi, Daniah Alsaleh, Fai Ahmad, Joud Fahmy, Khaled Al Tubaishi, Majed Angawi, Maysa Shaldan, Meshaal Alzeer, Moath Alofi and Zainab Mumtaz. Aziz Jamal, one of the participants, commented, “In art school, critique and discussion only occur intermittently; otherwise we are expected to learn independently. During the first week of Hayy Learning, I found myself speaking, listening and engaging more than I have ever done so before in a traditional educational environment.” Another participant, Maisa Shaldan, added, “It was not long into the first session of Hayy Learning that I realised that everything I saw, heard and discussed was going to have a big impact on my ideas and artistic vision. The programme, curated by Art Jameel, presented important topics for discussion or to be read, and lectures, by some of the most experienced and talented practitioners in the art scene. The course structure led to inspiring discussions that empower artists to present their ideas and work for examination, scrutiny and discussion to raise the calibre of their work.” The programme was developed in response to identified challenges that artists in KSA may face while looking to build a full time career. Some of these include:
  • Access to technical production facilities and artists’ studios for artwork implementation
  • Developing the skills to express their practice and that of others through art criticism and artist statement writing
  • Familiarity with programmes, grants, residencies, and communities that develop and inspire their creative practices
  • Having knowledge of public spaces, platforms, fairs, and galleries for exhibition
  • Familiarity with employment opportunities in arts administration, production, and education
  • Access to academic resources to develop their knowledge of critical theory
  • How to market, advertise, digitise and represent their work
  • Navigating the art market, from pricing to legal
  • Understanding of the gallery system (acquiring work, exclusive representation, collecting and auctioning)
  • Access to a community of like-minded artists
In turn, Hayy Learning programme objectives were:
  • Establishing a foundation in the historical context of modern and contemporary art in the Arab world and beyond
  • Gaining an understanding of the types of support systems and opportunities available in KSA
  • Forming relationships and building networks with mentors across the world
  • Learning about the art market, gallery representation and legal aspects of exhibiting work
  • Gaining skills in proposal writing, art criticism, portfolio building and application writing
  • Visiting sites including art spaces, galleries and artist studios
  • Sharing and reflecting on their own experiences and challenges with a likeminded group of creative professionals
The programme was designed to deliver specific practical skills and industry knowledge through the following learning delivery methods:
  • Seminars
  • Public screenings
  • Roundtable critics, reflections, assignment papers and presentations
  • Site visits to studios, galleries, institutions relevant to the artists
  • Focus groups and workshops
Learning resources included:
  • An online library of books and publication on visual art, design, architecture and humanities
  • An online platform for sharing information and tapping into academic resources
  • A Classroom library curated by Art Jameel and our partners
Hayy Learning – Curatorial Fellowship (May 2020-May 2021) The Curatorial Fellowship is a year-long school and apprenticeship for emerging Saudi curators, taking place online and in-person at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, led by Art Jameel’s curatorial team with international guest tutors from the Met, Pratt Institute (New York), Dutch Art Institute, KW Berlin, Tate, among others. The fellows participating in the 2020-21 edition — Abdullah Al-MutairiTara Emad Al-Dughaither and Wejdan Reda — were selected through a rigorous nomination, adjudication and interview process. The Fellowship includes a year-long series of online sessions plus on-site training at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai and Hayy Arts, Jeddah, led by Art Jameel’s curatorial team with international core and visiting guest tutors. The Fellowship involves mentorship, theory, apprenticeship, practical experience and knowledge exchange, and the development of individual research and exhibition proposals. In the first six months, the participating fellows have had the opportunity to engage with and learn from critical curatorial practitioners and educators including Maryam Al DabbaghDanielle BurrowsSam Bardaouil and Till FellrathNabila Abdel NabiNathalie PeutzNada RazaDeepak UnnikrishnanMurtaza ValiTirdad Zolghadr along with Art Jameel’s curatorial team. Between them, the fellows represent a wide breadth of research interests that will evolve throughout the programme. Abdullah Al-Mutairi is researching visual cultures and the notion of the marginal image in relation to modernity circulating online and in formal informal collecting practices in the past while also reflecting upon the tension between the subjectivity of the persons authoring these images and their interpretation. Abdullah is an artist, member of GCC collective and currently the Assistant Gallery Director at Sultan Gallery, Kuwait. Tara Emad Al-Dughaiter – drawing from her own practice as a vocalist – is researching the experiences of women’s singing practices and rituals in Al Hejaz, Saudi Arabia; thinking of modes that would allow for these diminishing immaterial forms to be self-represented and retrieved into contemporary culture. More about her project can be found at www.sawtasura.org. Tara is an artist and independent curator based in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Wejdan Reda is researching contemporary art canon and critical art discourse in Arabic through the case study of the use of Arabic terminology in interpretation and mediation with sculptural public art projects. Wejdan is a curator, art consultant and the founder of Sahaba.club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. More information about the curators and their projects can be found here. The Fellowship culminates with a closing programme at Hayy Jameel, Jeddah with fellows coming together in January 2022 to share their research and project outcomes with the larger community and public.