Sheikh Zayed: Founder's Memorial to open to public on April 22

Sheikh Zayed: Founders Memorial to open to public on April 22

Abu Dhabi - The designer of the memorial said that his challenge was to distil the legacy of Sheikh Zayed in the installation.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Wed 11 Apr 2018, 7:51 PM

Last updated: Wed 11 Apr 2018, 10:22 PM

The Constellation, a unique art installation featuring 1,327 geometric shapes suspended on more than 1,000 cables, is the major attraction of The Founder's Memorial, which will be open to public on April 22

The monument, a permanent national tribute commemorating the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, will make visitors understand the life, legacy and values of UAE's founding father.

The designer of the memorial said that his challenge was to distil the legacy of Sheikh Zayed in the installation, especially in The Constellation.

The Constellation offers a dynamic three-dimensional portrait of Sheikh Zayed that can be experienced differently from multiple vantage points. At night, the shapes shine like stars, evoking the timelessness of his vision as a guiding light for the people of the UAE.

One of the largest art installations of its kind, The Constellation, which was unveiled on February 26 in line with the national Year of Zayed initiative, is unique in its use of abstract portraiture on this scale.

Ralph Helmick, a sculptor and public artist, who's behind design of the artwork said: "The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is a unique global figure whose spirit is palpable throughout the UAE and beyond. Hence, it was vital that his legacy inspire the design in terms of both scope and endurance.

"Many facets of his dynamic personality were foundational to the artwork - from his ability to transform limited resources into a thriving economy and his role as an incubator, to his stature as the ultimate diplomat, his passion for environmentalism, his deep devotion to his family, and his unmatched popularity as a people's leader."

Helmick said his goal was to distil these qualities of UAE's father in an artwork that forges a real connection with the man and the leader.

"In the process, Sheikh Zayed's connection to nature emerged as a particularly strong guiding principle," he said.

"Even while overseeing unprecedented modernisation, he remained grounded in the physical world. The Constellation, therefore, is not a traditional figurative representation.

"It embodies an active re-creation of his likeness, exploring the boundaries of perception through abstraction on a monumental scale. Put simply, the installation seeks to fuse the terrestrial with the celestial."

Other historical references

In keeping with Sheikh Zayed's love of nature, and deep commitment to nurturing the local flora and fauna, the landscape of The Founder's Memorial features plants and shrubbery indigenous to the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula. Groves of Ghaf and Sidr trees provide moments of pause under their cool shade, while Nakhl (Date Palm), Fitnesh (Sweet Acacia), and Samr are scattered across the site.

The public plaza that surrounds the artwork, known as the Sanctuary Garden, offers a choice of seating areas and a serene ambience.

The plaza serves as a dedicated space where the community can gather to reflect on The Constellation's portrayal of Sheikh Zayed and contemplate the man and his vision.

Near the Sanctuary Garden there are more features to explore, including a water channel that symbolises the falaj- the ancient irrigation systems used by the people of the Arabian Peninsula - and a Heritage Garden where visitors will discover native plants traditionally used for their medicinal properties.

Complimentary tours from trained Cultural Tour Guides are available in both Arabic and English. The guides lead visitors through the memorial site, inviting them to gain a deeper understanding of Sheikh Zayed.

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