Inkwell, Pen and Paper Sculpture

Abdulhalim Radwi was the first artist chosen by Jeddah’s Mayor Mohammed Said Farsi to produce works of art for the city’s massive beautification project, which began in the 1960s. Born in the Holy City of Makkah, but later a proud Jeddah resident, Radwi began his career as an art instructor. In the late 1950s, Radwi began to take his own artistic talents more seriously by creating sculptures that caught the eye of Mayor Farsi. Radwi’s first attempts proved to be a learning experience for the talented artist. His preferred media for sculptures were clay and cement, but those materials proved to be too vulnerable for Jeddah’s brutal weather. Amazingly, he also began by fabricating his early creations on site under a large sunshade which shielded himself and the art from the harsh sun. Later on he learned to use natural materials like marble and iron for his sculptures and to work in the much more practical comfort of his studio. Radwi is credited with producing some fifteen sculptures, including this distinctive three piece work called Inkwell, Pen and Paper, made of clay and plaster. It has not fared so well now either, which is not surprising given its location next to the Red Sea. The scroll used to bear an inscription, now faded, quoted from the Quran, and the last time I saw this sculpture about one month ago, the pen was missing. Unfortunately vandalism occurs here too.

About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
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13 Responses to Inkwell, Pen and Paper Sculpture

  1. Pingback: Another View – Inkwell, Pen & Paper Sculpture « JEDDAH DAILY PHOTO JOURNAL

  2. Hi Jerry – No worries. Actually the art that was made for the city during its huge beautifcation program back in the 70s was a lot of trial and error and a learning experience for the artists. Some of the art from then was unfortunately destroyed by the elements. Thanks for your insight.

  3. Jerry M says:

    Hello Susie,

    I actually like the sculpture, I hope I didn’t give the impression that I didn’t. I studied art in college (I have a now long unused BFA) and one thing that is so important for public art is to design something that is going to stand up to abuse well. I cannot imagine any outdoor sculpture made of clay and plaster faring very well. Its not just vandalism, it is simple wear and tear.

    Anyone who has actually done any sculpture will understand the quote attributed to Michaelangelo: ‘a great sculpture can roll down a hill without breaking’. The essence of a thing should be able to stand up to a brutal beating (think Venus de Milo).

  4. Thanks to everyone for visitng and commenting.

    @ Jerry M – Many of the sculptures in Jeddah are interactive and user friendly. People sit on them, children climb on them, etc. There are so many themes for the art here, ranging from religious to nautical to educational to whimsical and more. It actually could be that the pen was removed for repairs or protective coating – I’m not sure. I’ll be sure to seek it out next time I’m in the area to see if the pen is back!

  5. Fishing Guy says:

    Susie: That is another interesting sculpture, you seem to have them throughout the city.

  6. Jerry M says:

    I hope the artist and the city use this as a learning experience. The first question is what kind of images are appropriate (and I am not trying to ask a religious question). In the West most older outdoor artwork was military in focus. In the modern age much work is abstract (walls, geometric forms etc.). An outdoor work has to engage the populace. Some kinds of work survive better in an urban environment. Particularly works that a user can touch and operate: (just think of the outdoor cubes that can be spun around in places like New York City).

    In the real world there often isn’t much difference between playground apparatus and sculpture. An artist who realizes that will create successful sculpture. So, the sculpture must be both inviting and (to a great degree) indestructable.

  7. lakshmi says:

    sad vandalism has crept in everywhere..terrible to hear about these cruel punishments

  8. Jacob says:

    Good grief. One thousand lashes would not leave much skin on one’s back!

    Somewhere there’s something about punishment fitting the crime. But it seems that women are devalued so that doesn’t help much.

  9. Geogypsy says:

    It is too bad about the theft. Not one of my more favorite sculptures. Such a dicotomy.

  10. Sorry Jacob – correction – the sheep thieves were sentenced to 1000 lashes!

  11. Hi Jacob – Penalties here for the most part are quite severe, except when it comes to crimes against women, it seems. Recently on the same day, two sentences were handed down. In one case, a man basically beat his own wife to death. He received two years in prison and 200 lashes. In the other case, two men who stole two sheep were sentenced to three years in prison and 300 lashes.

  12. Ah, vandalism makes me so angry…SO unproductive. :-/

    But I LOVE the sculpture, and it’s a great picture! 🙂


  13. Jacob says:

    Tis a very nice sculpture. Your commentary was excellent and most interesting. I think it is true that just about any structure is vulnerable to deterioration near a body of salt water. A hot sun doesn’t help.

    Sorry about the pen. Wouldn’t the penalty for vandalizing such a statue be rather harsh?

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