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3-13 April 2000
Palais des Nations Geneva

Under the joint patronage of Vladimir Petrovsky, Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva and Fayza Aboulnaga, Permanent Representative of Egypt, this extraordinary exhibit was held at the historic seat of the United Nations in Europe, the Palais des Nations.
"Human freedom never has as much meaning and value as when it allows the creative power of the child to come into action. All children are endowed with a creative power which includes an astonishing variety of potentialities. This power is necessary for the child to build up his own existence. "

  Battle -1975- Karima Ali

In this brief statement, the late Wissa Wassef eloquently sums up what was for him and still is today at the heart of his unique artistic experiment. He sought to bring about a marriage of craft, art and education. The art center he created in Giza, under the gaze of the eternal pyramids, soon became a beacon of excellence to the local community of Harrania and to the nation as a whole.

Wissa Wassef
Architect, Potter, Designer and Teacher

Thus the Ramses Wissa Wassef Arts Center became a home to some very fine artists, with neither formal education nor artistic training, local children of Harrania, were introduced to the craft and guided from then on, in a rather extraordinary way.


 The Red Sea - 1990- Sayed Mahmoud
The exhibit of "TAPESTRIES FROM EGYPT" portrays the magnificent complimentarity between the artist's imagination and the craft which can best be appreciated if we take into consideration that one of the basic premises of the Wassef Arts Center is that no sketches or plans are allowed. The composition is woven directly from the artist's imagination into the tapestry.

What is even more mystifying is that some of these tapestries are woven not vertically but horizontally, a feat of creativity by any standard.
This technique ensures not only total spontaneity but that each and every tapestry is a unique work of art never to be reproduced.

At the Palais de Nations , in her opening statement, H.E. Ambassador Fayza Aboulnaga the Permanent Representative of Egypt said:
"not only is this endeavour an artistic achievement of great merit, the Ramses Wissa Wassef Arts Center has also important social, economic and environmental objectives.

It provides its students with the skills for decent employment and a reasonable standard of living. It teaches self-reliance and empowerment especially in the case of girl students. It teaches respect for the environment and the motivation for its protection since all the components of these works of art come from the local environment.

By adapting an ancient craft to a modern day environment, the tapestries exhibited here today represent by all means a link between past and present. By virtue of the Wassef Art Center's location in a village on the peripheri of Cairo, these unique works of art provide a living connection between rural life and the bustling city. And today, this vibrant art produced by ordinary people, but not so ordinary artists, has given us yet another bridge between Egyptian culture and the world."

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