Rusayl Industrial Estate on the Muscat Expressway is where you find plenty of new ideas, but it’s not the first place that comes to mind when you think of artistic creativity.
It is definitely one where the wheels of imagination are turning: the area is a hotbed of industrial projects, research institutes, logistics companies, and pharmaceuticals, not to mention a number of other businesses, all which have creations that contribute to the development of Oman.
Nestled in the midst of the estate, however, is Alia’s Gallery, an oasis of colour where creative ideas come alive through paints and canvas. Home to more than 120 artworks, the gallery is the brainchild of Alia Al Farsi, who has poured plenty of her own blood, sweat, tears (and paint) into seeing her dream of opening her very own art space take form.
Of course, each of the canvases lovingly painted by her tell a story of their own, but observe them together, and you will see a common theme linking Alia’s designs. Inspired by the rich history, heritage and culture of Oman, each of Alia’s paintings tell a wonderful story, at the same time both immediately relatable, and reminiscent of people in far-away exotic lands that some of us have only heard of.
One of her more striking pieces is called Voyagers, and is testament to the harsh journeys Arab travellers and traders used to make across the deserts of the Middle East, often leaving their families for months on end.
At first glance, the painting is one that makes you appreciative of the history of this land, but you then realise it has modern connotations as well: ‘where’s daddy?’ is a question many a young child has anxiously asked their mother, when their father is away to earn a living for the ones he loves…it’s one I used to ask often. Still do, as a matter of fact.
The painting is bound to remind many of the sacrifices their parents have made for them. More observant viewers are sure to be more appreciative of the efforts of their elders. They might even crack a smile in knowing recognition, even go so far as to shed a tear.
But these emotions are what all of Alia’s paintings wish to convey: another of her artworks, titled You’ll never find someone like me, is a tribute to sisterhood and the closeness of family ties. Given the turbulent times we live in, I’m sure all of us have come to have greater respect for the intangible values of family, irrespective of whether we are cut off from our loved ones, or find ourselves spending extended periods of time with them.
It’s not just a question of missing family, though: many of us, after all, share these deep bonds with close friends, with whom we have created plenty of amazing memories. Memories that seem a world away, before COVID-19 changed the way we look at life, and taught us to be more grateful for what we have.
Much like the soft lighting with Alia’s Gallery, one of the largest solo galleries in the country, which performs a wonderful interplay of light and shadow with the sunbeams streaming in from the outside, or the streetlights that sometimes seem a world away, depending on the time of day, the emotions felt while you’re there do not hit you all at once.
They are rather, like the notes of an orchestra, some subtle, others more obvious, but together providing you an experience better than they could alone. It is this mélange of emotions, delivered in the form of vibrant colours and beautiful sentiments made art that make Alia’s Gallery a place worth visiting, all the while making sure you bring others with you to feel first-hand the wonders within.
Should you wish to delve deeper into this amazing realm of ideas, perfectly located in a comfortable corner of the gallery is a library, filled with books that are sure to arouse one’s curiosity, and provide you with even more means to make the hours fly by.
Those who wish to savour the flavours of Oman on another level will be able to do so as soon as a café, selling some rich, aromatic, locally brewed coffee, and delectable Omani sweets that will make your palate dance with tastes akin to the emotions coursing through your mind after a memorable tour of the gallery.
Whether you’re an instagrammer looking for inspiration, a family searching for fine art, or person seeking perspective, the carnival of colours and experience of emotions make Alia’s Gallery worth a visit. Always.
Alia’s Gallery in Rusayl is open from 9am to 6pm from Saturday to Thursday. Entry is free. – [email protected]