By Hani Al-Awadh (with photos)
SHARJAH, April 25 (KUNA) -- There is much awareness of the importance of enhancing children's visual comprehension skills through different media in the State of Kuwait and many educational institutions in the country hold drawing contests with that in mind, said a Kuwaiti participant at a specialized event here, Thursday.
Writer and journalist Amal Al-Randi was speaking to KUNA after taking part in a session of the ongoing Sharjah Reading Festival for children. The event runs April 23 to May 4 at Expo Centre Sharjah.
Al-Randi took part in the session themed, "Illustrations ... A childhood universe." She shared the session with Egyptian painter and pioneer children books illustrator in the Arab World Hilmi Al-Tooni. Rayya AbdelAal was the session moderator.
Speaking of support of child development in Kuwait, Al-Randi noted care to develop visual skills in children should start in early childhood through illustrated storybooks that offer illustrations for the child to fill in with color to express his feelings towards and comprehension about the characters in the work.
She said that leading institutions in Kuwait pay attention to that and hold related contests, mentioning by way of example the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), Martyr Office, and the NCCAL. The drawing and painting contests and activities also help discover young talents, she noted.
Back to the session, Al-Randi remarked the view she expressed was that nurturing a child's talent serves as first step to bringing up an individual with an appreciation of art and beauty and the value in all things. The Sharjah festival is a prime opportunity and a beautiful environment to create a universe of creativity to benefit our children.
The writer said she reviewed the first use of illustrations in children books in the 19th century. Since then, she went on, the illustrations shifted from professional mimicry of reality to more symbolism-imbibed style with a high value content to convey an idea or concept.
As the illustrator works on his paintings, he does not seek to represent reality per se, but to spark the child reader's imagination and expand his horizons. A tree or an animal, therefore, may not always look realistic and anatomically-correct and may not mean just a plant or an animal. "The illustrations may start out in or touch on reality, but by no means end just there," she stressed.
Today, children's books are closer to works of art than works of literature, Al-Randi argued. The progress seen since in the illustrations in such works went hand in hand with progress and movements seen in arts, going through different stages and preferences which include classicalism, impressionism, surrealism, expressionism, and so on and so forth.
The field even accommodated our increasing use of technology and is familiar with the latest applications used in contemporary art, she stressed.
As to a children literature illustrator's mission, Al-Randi said, "it is to make room for child imaginings, spark imagination. To open up new, wider horizons." Alongside the Sharjah Reading Festival, held with participation of 80 writers, illustrators, and intellectuals in the field, the public can visit the Sharjah Exhibition for Children Books' Illustrations, take part in workshops, see theatrical performances, sit in for reading workshops, attend workshops specifically designed to cater to children with special needs, and more.
Overall, there are 450 different activities. The participants are from the region, the Arab World, and beyond, and include representatives of 80 publishing establishments.
Al-Randi has a 2011 Certificate of Merit from the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCCAL) in children literature to her credit.
The Kuwaiti children literature author is also member of Kuwait Writers Association, Kuwait Journalists Association, and International Federation of Journalists.(end) hny.wsa KUNA 250955 Apr 13NNNN