Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park is adjacent to Jameel Arts Centre and is the UAE’s first open-air art and sculpture park. It was designed to balance the rippling water of Jaddaf Creek with the stacked geometry of the Jameel. The result, a fluid and easily navigated criss-cross of paths, reflects a hidden geometry that both defines distinct zones and builds an organic flow between them. The site-specific approach of park creators ibda design, an architecture studio founded in the UAE by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, placed a premium on accommodating both human behaviour and the aesthetic needs of the featured works.
Designed as an active and lively outdoor gallery space that welcomes community engagement, the Park transitions seamlessly from the open walkway around the corniche and features zones of fixed furniture with speciality tables for board games or chess, as well as an area designed for food trucks, where vendors can set up temporary stalls. A playground – with a child-centric topography, flexible rubber surface and sand station for experiential play – creates a safe and inviting space for families. A central feature of the park is the 200-seat amphitheatre for film screenings, performances, and talks; organically integrated into the surrounding landscape, the amphitheatre will host programming curated by the Jameel and community partners.
Recognising the potential impact of severe environmental conditions – salt, wind, water, sun – the works featured in the Park will be exhibited on long-term rotation. Pieces installed during the November 2018 opening of the park reflect themes of nature, atmosphere, transformation, immersion, and geometry as well as local and regional traditional forms.
Drawing upon the natural landscape surrounding his hometown of Khorfakkan (a city in the Emirate of Sharjah), Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim’s installation Khorfakkan Mountain Rock Wrapped in Copper String, 2007, is comprised of tons of rock collected over the course of several years. Each rock is wrapped with copper wire in an act of obsessive repetition that evokes both archaeology and the artist’s memory of a space before it is irrevocably changed by the UAE’s constant urban development.
David Nash transforms 700 kilos of tree bark through a ritualistic application of industrial blowtorches and chainsaws to produce a dark carbonised affect. The resulting work – Charred Column, 1993 – reflects the inherent tension between man and nature, and is designed to further evolve as the outdoor environments transform the treated sculpture over time.
Inspired by Cycladic sculpture and futurism, Helaine Blumenfeld brings a mass of hard bronze to life with the fluid form of Tempesta, 2013 – a unique crossover between figuration and abstraction.
Talin Hazbar and Latifa Saeed reimagine the majlis – a site where family, neighbours and members of a community gather – with a seating installation crafted in terracotta clay. Created in close collaboration with local craftsmen, Left Impression, 2018, is comprised of a series of purposefully deformed geometric forms, emphasising their origin in artistic handicraft rather than industrial process.
Hybridising motifs of Kuwait’s past and present, the series titled Desert Cast contributes to the development of local design identity through its re-application of regional and borrowed elements. This collection analyses the kitsch replication of classical architectural motifs in Kuwaiti houses. A trend that creates a disingenuous sense of vicarious and exotic luxury and contributes to Kuwait’s struggle to develop a context-based design identity, due to an orientalist over-generalisation of Middle Eastern culture.
The opening programming of the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park included the Middle Eastern/Asian premiere of the world-acclaimed immersive outdoor light installation WATERLICHT by Dutch artist and design creative Daan Roosegaarde.
The park is developed in partnership with Dubai Holding.