Innovative Applications for Presenting Heritage in the Visual Arts Medium: A Case Study of the Omani Legends and Stories Exhibition

Nada Al-Ajmi


In transforming the folk tale into a visual medium, contemporary artists have illuminated the remarkable flexibility of this cultural heritage. The Omani Legends and Stories exhibition held in 2012 featured forty-two contemporary artists inspired to re-interpret folk tales that encapsulated beliefs and values relevant in present-day Oman. Several years later, qualitative interviews were conducted with seven of the artists whose work depicted stories focused on representations of women. Together with some analysis of academic writing in the field of traditional tales, this study also garnered artists’ viewpoints as expressed in their art works and revealed in discussions with the artists themselves. It was found that there is continuity in the cultural values and beliefs across generations, that folk tales are still being passed on and that women were represented in them in an intriguingly positive light. The continuing observance of cultural restrictions practiced on women was not supported in either the folk tales or the artists’ own viewpoints. The example provided by Oman’s visual arts industry may inspire similar initiatives in other societies and further research on possible linkages between different art mediums that could be harnessed to further the betterment of women’s socio-cultural situation.



Folktales, Contemporary Art, Omani Legends, Women, Omani Culture.

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