Durban artist, Shehnaz Desai, with a very old art piece from Syria which she restored. She and other ‘Women of Art for Aid’ held their first online charity auction to raise funds for Covid-19 relief.
Durban artist, Shehnaz Desai, with a very old art piece from Syria which she restored. She and other ‘Women of Art for Aid’ held their first online charity auction to raise funds for Covid-19 relief.

Charity art auction raises R80 000 for Covid relief fund

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Oct 24, 2020

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Durban - Helping frontline workers in the battle against Covid-19. That was the Tawakul “Women of Art for Aid” Initiative which raised funds through their first virtual charity art auction that went to the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa (Imasa) for their Covid-19 relief fund.

The donated artworks, more than 90 in total and raising about R80 000, were done by 50 female artists, including Durban artist and director Shehnaz Desai of L’Art Arabe Gallery in Musgrave Road.

This week Desai said she had been delighted to take part in the initiative.

“I did a painting specially for the auction and there were some artists who submitted two or three pieces. It was also nice to meet all the other artists and to see all the talent out there,” she said.

Desai specialises in 3D cement artworks, although she also works in other mediums. Growing up in Durban, she never had any formal art training.

“I studied criminology and speech and drama at the University of Durban-Westville, but I started painting about 10 years ago,” she said.

She became fascinated with the processes involved in producing 3D cements art pieces.

“A cement work can take up to a month to complete as there can be up to eight layers and each layer has to dry for 24 hours.

“I use a template and then build up with cemented sand. I only use acrylic paint. I enjoy the natural beauty, as well as the layering and texture to create the 3D effect,” said Desai, adding she also enjoyed Arabic calligraphy and abstract art.

She has also restored some old art works from Syria which hang in the gallery, along with work from other artists and her own.

Another former Durbanite, Faried Salie, who also donated art to the auction, said she was pleased that her three art pieces were sold.

“I am a member of Safia (South African Foundation for Islamic Art). While I was living with my daughter in Westville, I was involved with Sister Honey Allie of the IMA bereavement group. When Tawakul requested donations for the IMA Covid-19 relief efforts, I donated my work hoping to be of help,” said Salie, who now lives in Cape Town.

Rustenburg artist, Aashia Kola Sahib, who also donated art for auction, said: “Giving is not just about making a donation, it is about making a difference in someone’s life. The reason behind me joining the art initiative is because small actions with lots of people can make a big difference or change in the lives of those that matter.”

Pretoria-based artist, Shehnaz Suliman, said she felt blessed to take part in the auction.

Imasa national president, Dr Yakub Moosa Essack, said the initial focus was to help in providing PPE (personal protective equipment), as well as fabric masks for vulnerable communities and oxygen concentrators for home-based care of Covid patients. “The second wave or mutation of the coronavirus may require additional capacity considerations,” said Essack.

Imasa Durban’s Dr Shakira Cassim said: “I want to salute the women who painstakingly painted all the artworks and so generously put these forward for charity. We acknowledge the time, patience and sacrifice they have put into producing beautiful works of art.”

The Independent on Saturday

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