On the banks of the Nile, amid vast charming green fields, and inside a simple building surrounded by rural houses inhabited by friendly people and smiling faces, a group of Egyptian artists gather on a monthly basis to give free rein to their creative abilities to produce sculptures and sketches. The artists gather in Nathan Doss’s salon for art and creation at Gezirat al-Dahab, literally Island of Gold, in the Nile off its south Cairo bank.
Born in 1971 in the Minya town of Mallawi some 230km south of Cairo. Nathan Doss earned a degree in Fine Arts and Education in 1993. His monthly salon hosts artists in various fields: painting, portraiture, sculpture, and direction. The most recent gathering included artists Asmaa’ Samy, Nevine Nageh, Waheed Mekheimar, Essam Taha, Mustafa Selim, Iman Muhammad, Mina Hany and Nahed Nasr. Watani was there too.
Under the theme “Together, we draw the future”, the artists sat under the pale winter sun contemplating the lush green landscape, the birds swooping downwards to touch the Nile water, the peasant women heading towards the fields, and the ferry boats moving people from this the island to the mainland. But everyone agreed that the loveliest aspect of the day was when the peasant children came to look on and attempt imitations of the artists’ works.
“I chose this attractive place,” Mr Doss said, because it resembles the surroundings of Mallawi where I grew up. As artists, we wish to promote a culture of creativity and spread the beauty of visual art among the peasants in the island and their children. Our goal is to uphold Egyptian art that carries the true Egyptian character.” Mr Doss’s wife Nagah bustled around, graciously taking care of her guests.
Artist Asmaa Samy had brought her little son with her. “The idea of making artwork as we sit in the lap of nature takes us back to the origin of all art: natural beauty,” she said. “My little boy is having the time of his life. I was keen to give him a taste of what stimulates creativity.”
Another person who was obviously having the time of his life was the photographer, Mr Mekheimar, who captured the scenic landscape, as well as portraits of the people around. Mr Doss, for his part, was busy sculpting a bust of his guest Nahed Nasr.