On our way back from Souq Waqif to Shaima flat, we noticed a unique building with nice and different architectural design. We asked Shaima “is this a governmental building or represent any society/community !?” Shaima answered; this is the old Doha fire station, and has been recently transformed into art gallery that will also host artist in residence program in an objective to follow Qatar National Vision 2030. Beside our interest in different types of arts, we have been curious to know more about the idea of transforming this building from a civil administration to place for community use, so we decide to visit it the next day.
Next morning, Shaima left early for work and we headed directly to the fire station “Artist in residence”. Shaima also contacted the fire station director “Hala Al Khalifa” as she know her, and informed her that we are visiting them today… Shaima you are really taking good care of us! Hala welcomed us with her nice smile, she was so kind and lovely, she provided an overview about the place and programs that will be hosted, goals and achievements.
The Fire Station runs an Artist in Residence program that focuses on the visual arts, fashion, anime, performance, multimedia, literature and music, and is open to curators in all disciplines. It will strive to initiate and support new approaches in understanding, producing and valuing art; based on openness, innovation and originality. The Fire Station Artist in Residence program hosts 20 artists every year for a 9 month residency that culminates in a group exhibition at the Garage Gallery. Each artist has their own individual studio space, with unlimited access.
We think it’s really an ambitious vision that will enrich the art sector in Qatar.
Then we went to the art gallery to visit the exhibition titled “555”. Early forms of residencies started in 1995, and closed a decade later in 2005 in Doha, and now in 2015 they continue the art in residence program again. The name 555 is also a play on the number 999 which was dialed by residents of Qatar to actually contact the Fire Station.
We continued our tour to tack a look to the other sections of the building which is really impressive. At the end we say good bye to Hala and hope to meet her again. We really wish that one day that such promising projects will be held in Bahrain, specially that there are a lot of local and young talents that need such place and attention.