Muscat: In a bid to bring art to the public and raise awareness about the endangered Arabian Tahr, or ibex, a group of artists has been busy painting life-sized models of the animal at the Al Amerat Park venue of the Festival.
The project, which is part of the Muscat Art Festival, is being organised by renowned local artist Hassan Meer, and features local and international artists, as well as some children. They all have an ibex to paint in whatever way they wish as the festival-goers watch them curiously.
"We approached the Environment Society of Oman and asked which animals were in danger. They gave us a list and the ibex was one of them. We want to create awareness that this animal is endangered so people should keep it safe. What we're presenting are the artists' ideas of the animal," explained Meer.
As the artists worked on their models, crowds gathered around to watch and even comment and ask questions. Local artist Yusuf Al Nahwi even joked with some onlookers that he had brought his ibex, which he named Yusuf after himself, from the Hajar Mountrains and gave it some water to drink.
He said he had a good relationship with the animal, and even talked to it as he painted. "He agreed with me that there should be many colours," he said with a mischievous glint in his eye.
For Meer, having public interest and involvement is a key part of the project. Most art exhibitions in Oman are held indoors, so many people aren't exposed to art. Projects like this, on the other hand, bring art to the people and make it accessible, he explained.
"Even the abstract painting on the ibex is an education for the public. Outdoor art is public art, where people can see it. This is what we need in Oman. They need an education about art, to see art and learn about it," Meer said.
Raya Al Manji, who is painting detailed, three-dimensional, traditional Omani objects on her ibex, said the project was also a great way to celebrate all things Omani, from the animal to cultural treasures, and to share her work with the visitors.
"It's critical to paint here in the festival. This is a chance to let people know the artists and for us to see them react to the paintings. I feel many people are interested in what we are doing," she said.