Botanic Garden to display Egyptian tapestries

The San Diego Botanic Garden will display 24 garden-themed tapestries from the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre in Egypt from Jan. 14 to March 31.

The tapestries, originally developed as an “experiment in creativity,” were created beginning in 1952 by leading Egyptian architect Ramses Wissa Wassef, who believed everyone has artistic skills but these develop only when they practice the crafts as children, according to a news release.

After initiating the theory, Wissa Wassef invited children from the village of Harrania, six miles from Cairo, to learn to weave. The children were instructed to depict whatever they liked but copying, preliminary designs and help from adults were not allowed. The goal was to show any child can create works of art, confirming that creativity starts at youth.

Since Wissa Wassef died in 1974, his widow Sophie and daughters Suzanne and Yoanna expanded the experiment, guiding more children to master weaving. Now, 30 adult wool and cotton weavers work at the Art Centre in Egypt.

Eighteen wool and six cotton tapestries will be on display in the Ecke Building at the Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Jan. 14 through March 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Glenn Weiss, North American representative for the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre and well-known public art consultant, will give a free lecture on Wissa Wassef’s legacy on Jan. 12 at 4 p.m.

Books, wall signs and a short documentary about the making of the tapestries and the aspirations of Wissa Wassef, will also be on display.

“The San Diego Botanic Garden has proven to be a perfect venue for the display of art,” Julian Duval, President and CEO of San Diego Botanic Garden, said in the release. “We are extremely pleased to be the first public garden to display these unique plant- and garden-themed tapestries and share them with our visitors from the San Diego region and beyond.”

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