The Nour Festival, showcasing contemporary Arab, Middle East and North African Art, Music, Film, Fashion, Literature, Shopping and Food launched in the less contemporary surroundings of Leighton House, Kensington last week.
Welcoming in the two month festival was remarkably easy for Leighton House and there was a natural fit between contemporary cutting edge artists and their temporary surroundings. The self confident grace of Saud Al Attar’s tree of life series sat comfortably alongside Lord Leighton’s high Victorian art.
Passing through Leighton’s remarkable 1877 Arab Hall and his collection of 16th and 17th century Damascus tiles, the first Nour display guests saw was a collaboration between children of the Chelsea Community Hospital School and a school in the Gaza Strip. This link up is a notable achievement given the bureaucracy involved as well as the political sensitivities in the UK (Michael Gove recently went out of his way to attempt to ruin the Tottenham Palestinian Literature Festival because it involved such bonds forming). But the display of models of Palestinian keys from the pre-Israel era is presented without fuss, and without politics.
This set the tone for Nour: unpretentious, politically aware and direct.
But, Nour does not labour on the political. In the year of the Arab Spring, these artists come with no political dogma, but with something far more ethereal. Equality and confidence promise a fascinating two months of rich diversity.
The Nour Festival has many free events and a programme can be downloaded.
The highlights are too many to name, but watch out this Friday for London’s own Master Mimz (of Back Down Mubarak fame, but with so much more to come) in conversation with Randa Safieh about Arabic Hip Hop, to be followed by an acoustic performance.
Nour Festival of Arts – Until the 30th November, Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, Kensington, W14 8LZ
Master Mimz – Performance and conversation, Free Event! 14th October