About Y. W. W.
Ramses & Yoanna W. W.
Yoanna W. W.
"human freedom never has as much meaning and value as when it allows the creative power of the child to come into action. All children are endowed with a creative power which includes an astonishing variety of potentials which is necessary for the child to build up his own existence” R.W.W
The R.W.W Centre was founded in Harrania village, Giza- Egypt, in 1952 with one aim in mind, to prove that every human being is born with the ability to be creative but he/she has to start at a very young age and has to be given enough time and confidence to express his/her feelings and imagination freely through a craft like weaving, batik, ceramics…etc. Those are the rules we follow to this day.
The Wissa Wassef Art Centre is the home of a unique experiment in Batik, tapestry weaving and Ceramics that has produced works admired and collected by museums around the world (The Victoria & Albert Museum, London – The Metropolitan Museum, USA - Roemer Pelizaeus museum, Germany – The Vatican Church, Rome - to name a few. Angers, Muses Jean Lurçat. L’Egypte Tissee also have a room dedicated to R.W.W’s work)
Ramses Wissa Wassef
The founder, Ramses Wissa Wassef, was an Egyptian architect, artist & Pedagogue who was driven by his belief that every human being possesses an inner power of creativity which, if discovered and developed through the practice of a craft, could become a way to help under-privileged children make a better life for themselves using their own creative abilities.
Through this initiative Ramses and his wife, Sophie Gorgi, were able to change the villagers’ attitudes towards issues such as schooling, the rights of women to work and other concerns affecting their quality of life. After Ramses' passing in 1974, the art centre has continued to run under the guidance of Sophie, Suzanne and Yoanna Wissa Wassef.
Batik was introduced in the centre in 1965.
Yoanna Wissa Wassef (Y w w)
Yoanna, born 1952, studied French Lit at Cairo University with the intention of becoming a writer and translator. The sudden death of her father changed the course of her life to, instead keeping the art center going, along with her mother & sister. Taking over the batik group in 1974 she added to the palette of colours while encouraging the artists to experiment with techniques. This resulted in more diverse artistic styles for the batik school.
Though batik was already her hobby, Yoanna had to start everything from scratch from building her own workshops & horizontal looms, to house the new fine cotton weaving group she started, to teaching herself cotton weaving & natural dyeing.
Her love for writing never fading, she wrote many articles about the center and is currently writing a biography about Harrania & the people involved in it’s making, to be finished within this year.
“Teaching these young people is a two way process. I learned from them as much as I taught them. We see ourselves as partners in creativity. But the role I am most proud of, is that they adopted me as their mother.”
since 1974 Yoanna has been directing young artists to uniquely produce the art she believes all human beings have inside them but need guidance to express. She's always careful not to have her own personality imposed on the young artists' work but simply becoming a guidance to them when they need it. "The younger artists have a good influence on the older ones as they’re always ready to experiment with the technique and colours and add a much wider range of subjects to their art."
Batik is an old art where resin or wax is used to draw on material. When immersed in dye the wax covered area of the material does not absorb the colour. This process is used in Africa and the Far East. Ancient Egyptians also used a similar process to decorate material but it disappeared over the years.
Yoanna Wissa Wassef's Batiks are free hand designs painted with wax (not printed) on 100% Egyptian cotton using fast dyes. Initially the idea to introduce batik to the Center was for its practicality but soon it was realised that it had the potential to further prove that children can create magnificent works of art through any means or methods if given the confidence and freedom.
The same 3 golden rules Ramses, & Yoanna after him, established are followed to this day:
No preliminary sketches
No copying of any kind
No repetition/ Each artwork is unique
Saiid Ibrahim (born 4/4/1958)
Saiid joined the Center in 1964 with 2 of his friends to work as a gardener. Ramses Wissa Wassef saw through his mischief a bright young boy. Taking him under his wings, he put order in his trouble filled life and taught him batik painting. Saiid is the only one of the second generation of artists under Yoanna’s guidance to be taught by Ramses. Saiid’s personality is reflected in his bold lines and strong contrasting colours. His work has been displayed in many of the Centre’s exhibitions. In Egypt his work adorns The Cairo Opera House, El Ahram Newspaper building as well as several prestigious clubs. Abroad his work was exhibited in The Barbican Centre in London, Institute du monde Arab in Paris and the Roemer Pelizaeus Museum, Hildesheim in Germany among a few
Saber Saiid Ibrahim (born 5/5/1980)
From the age of 10 Saber (right) used to accompany his father to the Centre after school. He showed great interest and skill in batik painting. After getting his diploma in Commerce, he joined the Centre full time.
Saber is known for his intricate designs. His youthful passion for his work is clear in his willingness to surprise us with unexpected innovations
Rizk Abd El Salam (b.1962)
Rizk was born with a physical challenge. His left arm is not straight which made it difficult for him to farm his family's land with his brothers. His father asked Sophie to teach him weaving at the art centre but she had too many students already so she asked Yoanna, her youngest daughter, to teach him Batik instead. Yoanna agreed and so Rizk joined the art Center in 1978 as a batik artist. Though his arm makes it challenging for him to control his lines as confidently as the other artists, his work is no less expressive. He likes natural scenes of plants and animals rather than patterns. His taste leans towards very busy, bold and colourful designs. Rizk was the only one of the batik artists to think of using his skill to make batik dresses for his daughters.
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