A monument to heroic deeds in UAE

A monument to heroic deeds in UAE
Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi - The monument was designed by British artist Idris Khan, and is the centrepiece of the park



By Jasmine al Kuttab

Published: Wed 30 Nov 2016, 6:25 PM

UAE's brave heroes who sacrificed their lives for their country will be honoured and remembered, not only on Commemoration Day, but everyday, as their names are now forever immortalised at 'Wahat Al Karama' (Oasis of Dignity) memorial site, located to the East of the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said the site is a landmark, which will reflect the nation's pride in the sacrifices made by its heroes.
"Wahat Al Karama is a national landmark to unite the people of the UAE in gratitude for the heroes that have honoured the UAE."
"It will tell the heroic tales of those who have given their lives for the country. The site will immortalise the heroes' memory, and forever bear witness to their sacrifices, inspiring future generations of young Emiratis to adhere to their country's national values," added Shaikh Mohammed.
The monument was designed by British artist Idris Khan, and is the centrepiece of the park. It was an honour to have his design approved for the Martyr's Memorial, Idris Khan told Khaleej Times.
"As you can imagine, it was an incredible feeling to have been chosen to create an artwork of this magnitude and meaning."
He pointed out that he holds a great love for emotional art, as it reflects on loss and memory.
"I felt an immense sense of pride to be able to make this work and it is the biggest piece of art I have ever made."
"The whole process was a whirlwind. We only started design development in March and now the work is finished. It was an exciting and emotional journey."
Khan highlighted that the design appeared to him in January, while reflecting on what a monument should symbolise.
"It is a place to reflect a particular type of emotion. It is a symbol of a county's belief and support for their nation, and to feel pride in the people who selflessly protect it."
He noted that the word "support" remained in his head, and that is when the ideas of strong, straight lines began to be drawn from pencil on paper.
"The lines looked like they were never completely falling, but caught somewhere in the middle between going backwards or being pushed forward."
"In losing someone close to you, the most important thing is the support of everyone around you and to stay strong together."
Throughout the monument, selected tablets have a combination of Arabic calligraphy cast or sandblasted into the aluminum surface. Castings incorporate poems and quotes from the Father of the UAE, the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as well as of Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed.
Khan explained that by using the height and structure of the monument, the calligraphy guides the visitor to search for the text, using their eyes to look up, across and down over the entire sculpture, at different intimate points.
"I wanted to create an immersive space, where the viewer could interact with the sculpture. A place where the sculpture could create a feeling of being overwhelmed by its scale - like it represented the weight of history," Khan added.
The memorial in detail
Idris Khan explained that 31 tablets make up the entire monument. The tallest is 23 metres high and spans over 90 metres in length.
The entire monument consists of 300 tonnes of steel and 111 tonnes of 900 cast aluminium panels, which have each been handed-painted.
The texture is strong and tough, yet delicate at the same time, thus enticing the viewer to come closer - to see and touch the true surface.
The individual panels of the memorial speak to the strength of coming together to support each other, whether they are soldiers, families, citizens or visitors in the face of adversity.
jasmine@khaleejtimes.com


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