The Ibex Project saw 30 life-size models of the endangered species on display at Amerat Park last week as part of Muscat Art Festival. HH Sayid Tarik bin Shabib al Said inaugurated the event which saw participation from 28 Omani artistes and two international artistes. The ibexes will be on display at the park for a few more months. The project is being held with the objective of raising awareness about the ibex and promoting Omani artistes.
Yousuf al Nahwi explained that his ibex was inspired by the hues of the sunset. “I was sitting in front of my white ibex wondering what I’d paint it when I looked at the sky.” Sweeps of orange later, Yousuf painted doves to signify the visitors to Amerat Park for the festival. “Doves always fly away and return to you. The people who attend the Muscat Festival will also return every year,” he said. A coat of oil paint and lacquer added a glossy texture to his ibex.
Raya al Manji’s ibex was golden in matte finish. Deliberately so, she said, in an attempt to capture the ‘rusty feel of antiques’. She painted plates screwed on with nuts and bolts and a fuel tank above the ibex’s hind leg. “I used my hands to paint the coating, improvising along the way. I wanted to give the metals a 3D effect. I wanted to show that the ibex is an animal as important as an antique.”
Identity crisis seemed to be the common thread as ibexes modelled after the vibrant tail of a peacock, a cheetah, even Nefertiti turned heads. “Mine is definitely having a crisis,” said Sarah White, artist and arts advisor and museum director at Bait al Zubair , whose ibex was a colourful swirl of zebra stripes. “It shows the zebra as a globally recognised animal while the ibex is not. It also has a mask on. Again, as if to cover its identity like women who use make-up to mask their faces,” she said. Said al Alawi’s ibex was a statement on the revival of Omani heritage as he pointed out the khanjar, silver jewellery and patterns found on mats which he had painstakingly painted on the model.
Muscat Art Festival collabora-ted with the Environment Society of Oman to hold The Ibex Project. Malik al Hinai, organiser, Muscat Art Festival, said there were plans to auction the ibex models to raise funds for the protection of the species.