Wednesday, 2 July 2014

STUDIO VISIT: Barbican's Sanaa Studios champion the pure pleasure of the creative arts

STILL LIFE: The art house urges clients and visitors of all ages to "discover art, discover you."

The Sanaa Studios in St. Andrew are in a sort of recovery mode after making their debut in the cultural whirlwind that was Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) an experience that brought a wave of garrulous new energy into the Barbican-based art house.

"This was our first year participating and, I must say, it's one of the best decisions we've ever made," beam proprietor/founder/creative director Ann Ventura. "We got quite a number of new visitors to the studio which we assumed our participation would bring, and the feedback has been fantastic." In fact, adds administrator Nadine Campbell-Pearson, Michelle Lee's Encaustic Art show, which sought to explore the fine line between science and art, drew their largest attendance yet. "We couldn't find enough room, enough space to hold most of the people that were here," she says. "It was quite a crowd."

Perched on a hillet on the Burger King compound on Barbican Road, Sanaa has been attracting its share of creative people and serving the local arts community well since first opening its doors in September 2008. 

Today, it's a terrific spot for budding artists, artisans and other talented souls to hone their skills, thanks to an exciting array of traditional and contemporary art workshops conducted by highly trained instructors (both local and foreign) in fully equipped and state-of-the art rooms, where "personalized attention" is guaranteed. Disciplines range from ceramics and jewellery-making to drawing/painting and digital photography. Kids and teens' art-and-craft sessions, as pictured above, figure heavily in their summer programme.

For Ventura, the vision was always to provide a haven ideal for self-discovery and perfect for exploring the creative imagination. "Art education for all ages is very important because it not only builds people's self-confidence but it also instils passion and nurtures enlightenment," says Ventura, a former art teacher at Immaculate Prep. "We say enjoy art for the pure pleasure of it! We really are about self-development. We really are about exploring your creative side and maximizing that as much as possible."

Many of Sanaa's regulars, Ventura goes on to explain, find the facilities a terrific launching pad, and quite a few have gone on to excel in wonderful art-based careers. "[Our services] are not necessarily for academic purposes, but that's a benefit you get also," she tells TALLAWAH. "We are a stepping stone for those interested in moving on to a serious art career; for high-schoolers looking towards [the] Edna Manley [College]; for those interested in going overseas to study. We help build their portfolios and develop their skills."

Looking ahead, are there plans in the works for Sanaa's next five years and beyond? "Oh, yes," Ventura replies incredulously, but keeping the juicy details all to herself. She smiles proudly. "We're here to stay. We'll be here for a long time." 

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