Dubai's canvas: Artists & patients come together to spread colour, joy

Ask any artist and they’d tell you how creating art for them is like meditating; they’d speak about the benefits of practising any art form, from connecting to oneself to calming nerves.


Renée Phillips, artists’ advocate and mentor, and founder, director and curator of Manhattan Arts International, is known for the integration of arts with health. It was her words, “The medical profession has come a long way in recognising the healing benefits of art. My hope is that someday the arts will be considered as significant in everyone’s lives as breathing fresh air, eating clean foods, and performing physical exercise,” that rang in our head when we attended the Art Therapy event hosted by Funun Arts Group at Gargash Hospital, earlier this week.

“The process of creating an artwork involves expressing oneself. This can help patients understand themselves, address inner conflicts, channelise their feelings, reduce stress, and can even contribute to improving their overall self-esteem.”

Lubna Naeem, director (operations), Gargash Hospital


Twenty artists from the Funun Arts, a community of art galleries, visual arts, designers, photographers, et al, worked together with the 20 patients at the hospital, to create beautiful, meaningful artworks. Ghada Sawalmah, CEO, Gargash Hospital, said, “Arts is a good medium of expression. Today, our patients expressed themselves through their pieces of art. We believe that this will support the healing process of the patients, and we would be keen to explore the benefits of art therapy further.” Shiba and Farah Khan, founders, Funun Arts, shared how the event was part of a larger communication that focuses on the creative process of building up an artistic approach to recover a person’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being, “Working for the wellness of the society and giving back to the community was the motive which brought Funun Arts and Gargash Hospital together.”

“Each art event is a challenge for us, as we are always aspiring to create a positive impact on the community. When art enthusiasts/ visitors attend our events, we wish them to experience something new and carry a message of hope.”

Shiba and Farah Khan, founders, Funun Arts

Kavita Sriram, a participating artist, expressed how the morning led her to experience an irreplaceable, everlasting feeling of joy and calmness as she worked with the patients, “Colours hold the power to happiness.” Stefania Pomillo, another artist added, “As artists, we are blessed with a magical wand, which can bring happiness to people and assist in reducing the suffering of one and all; and that's what we did today."

The participating artists: Shiba and Farah Khan, Pari Sagar, Kavita Sriram, Anubha Kaw, Sumedha Randev Goel, Sapna Jain, Sabah Anees, Saima Hasan, Raisa Rajan, Stefania Pomillo, Rubab Zahra, Ruby Mishra, Susmitha Dhruva, Kadambini Choubey, Dr. Rohita Ann Thomas, Dr. Devishree S., Mouna Fersi Seghir, Kshama Agarwal, Bhavi Singhal, and Saida Banu.

“Art can mean different things to different people. When patients go through a difficult phase in their lives, they often tend to be reclusive, further aggravating their agony. The aim of today’s session was not to eliminate their sufferings, but to enlighten them that art can be a form in which they can express themselves.”

Ghada Sawalmah, CEO, Gargash Hospital


This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.

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