Jameel House of Traditional Arts / Cairo

The Prince’s School established a regional centre in Cairo for the regeneration of traditional Islamic arts and crafts for the Middle East, in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and Art Jameel.

Our main objectives were to engage younger generations with their rich cultural heritage, to allow them to understand its principles and language and to find the means of their expression in today’s world.

The work in Cairo began in 2005, with our School’s team collaborating on workshops and initiatives with local artists and craftsmen. These awakened a wider interest in Islamic art as a living tradition and not just belonging to an archaeological past. As a result, the School was invited by the Ministry of Culture to establish a two-year programme at their Al Fustat Crafts and Ceramics Centre for local artisans working in ceramics, gypsum, textile, wood inlay and brass piercing.

The first stage of this programme focused on intense training in the design principles and language of the traditional arts. This was supported by research into local techniques and materials to develop a new range of products that would extend the lineage of traditional Egyptian arts and crafts into the present. This phase saw a unique, creative moment that brought together master craftsmen, local young artists and our team, which set the scene for a more formal, long-term programme.

This success prompted further developments. Artisans from the initial programme were trained by the School to become the teachers of a two-year Diploma course, open to all. Students come from a variety of backgrounds in crafts and design to learn the traditional arts of geometry, arabesque, drawing and colour harmony, alongside crafts such as parquetry, ceramics, gypsum and metalwork.

Twenty-five students are selected each year. They are encouraged to work in their own tradition by engaging with all aspects of Islamic art, learning how to accurately generate its beautiful designs and patterns, appreciate their symbolic meaning and apply these same principles to their own contemporary designs. In this way our students connect with and participate in an uninterrupted thread of knowledge, which began in ancient times and is still alive today.

For more information, please visit: http://artjameel.org/heritage/cairo/