A female dancer dressed in traditional costume - loose dress with belt and headdress with gold coins around the front - in a pose looking up above her with her right hand up in the air and left foot stepped forwards A female dancer dressed in traditional costume - loose dress with belt and headdress with gold coins around the front - in a pose looking up above her with her right hand up in the air and left foot stepped forwards
A young woman with long, curly hair, dancing in front of a crowd of people. She's wearing a brightly coloured, tight-fitting, lacey dress with a belt and bra covered in shiny hanging decorative coin-shaped discs. She has her arms outstretched and a big smile on her face A young woman with long, curly hair, dancing in front of a crowd of people. She's wearing a brightly coloured, tight-fitting, lacey dress with a belt and bra covered in shiny hanging decorative coin-shaped discs. She has her arms outstretched and a big smile on her face
A woman with long hair wearing a traditional Arabic dress and robe with large flowers stitched all over it. She's dancing with a young girl from the audience. Around her are other dancers and members of the public watching A woman with long hair wearing a traditional Arabic dress and robe with large flowers stitched all over it. She's dancing with a young girl from the audience. Around her are other dancers and members of the public watching
Four women in traditional, flowing, colourful robes, performing a dance. The viewpoint is from higher up above them. They all have their hands up by their faces, swooshing their heads around to the side, making their hair fly out Four women in traditional, flowing, colourful robes, performing a dance. The viewpoint is from higher up above them. They all have their hands up by their faces, swooshing their heads around to the side, making their hair fly out
The top half of a woman. She has shoulder-length, wavy hair and is wearing a black t-shirt with a gold, loosely crocheted vest top over the top. She's side on to the camera, but has turned her head and is smiling The top half of a woman. She has shoulder-length, wavy hair and is wearing a black t-shirt with a gold, loosely crocheted vest top over the top. She's side on to the camera, but has turned her head and is smiling
Alia, the storyteller, is standing in front of three girls, who are sitting on the floor looking up at her. She's looking at them, pointing a finger as she tells her story. The camera is behind the children Alia, the storyteller, is standing in front of three girls, who are sitting on the floor looking up at her. She's looking at them, pointing a finger as she tells her story. The camera is behind the children
A group of people listening to the storytelling. There are four children and an adult on the floor with a few adults standing behind them. In the foreground is a teenage girl, watching and smiling. The focus is on the teenager with everyone else out of focus A group of people listening to the storytelling. There are four children and an adult on the floor with a few adults standing behind them. In the foreground is a teenage girl, watching and smiling. The focus is on the teenager with everyone else out of focus
A crowd of around twenty people are watching a man, who is about to start painting. He's dressed in black and standing on large sheets of white paper taped to the floor. He holds a paintbrush, which is attached to an extension pole. He's looking at the crowd, slightly bent over, and smiling A crowd of around twenty people are watching a man, who is about to start painting. He's dressed in black and standing on large sheets of white paper taped to the floor. He holds a paintbrush, which is attached to an extension pole. He's looking at the crowd, slightly bent over, and smiling
A closeup of the paper on the floor, which is now being covered in Arabic-style lines and marks. Also in shot is Nazir's legs and his hand holding the paintbrush. The brush is being pulled along the paper. In the foreground is a pot with black ink in it A closeup of the paper on the floor, which is now being covered in Arabic-style lines and marks. Also in shot is Nazir's legs and his hand holding the paintbrush. The brush is being pulled along the paper. In the foreground is a pot with black ink in it
A photo of the calligraphy artist, Nazir. He's bent down on one knee, looking at the camera with a slight smile on his face. He's wearing black trousers, t-shirt and bowler hat A photo of the calligraphy artist, Nazir. He's bent down on one knee, looking at the camera with a slight smile on his face. He's wearing black trousers, t-shirt and bowler hat
Another photo of Nazir doing his calligraphy. The paper is mostly filled with his artwork and he's standing in the middle of the paper, looking down at it. Another photo of Nazir doing his calligraphy. The paper is mostly filled with his artwork and he's standing in the middle of the paper, looking down at it.
Three children - two girls and one boy - are at a table, painting with brushes and black ink on a strip of white paper. They're all wearing bright yellow aprons Three children - two girls and one boy - are at a table, painting with brushes and black ink on a strip of white paper. They're all wearing bright yellow aprons
A woman is taking a dance workshop. She's standing with arms out to the side, and is looking back at the other women in the room behind her A woman is taking a dance workshop. She's standing with arms out to the side, and is looking back at the other women in the room behind her
A group of mostly women in a room taking part in a dance workshop. There's ten people in the photo. They're stepping forward with their hands up towards their faces A group of mostly women in a room taking part in a dance workshop. There's ten people in the photo. They're stepping forward with their hands up towards their faces
A woman is sitting at a desk talking to a room full of people. The camera is looking through some of the audience to the woman A woman is sitting at a desk talking to a room full of people. The camera is looking through some of the audience to the woman
Closeup of a middle-aged man talking to an out-of-shot audience. There are four women sitting to the side of him Closeup of a middle-aged man talking to an out-of-shot audience. There are four women sitting to the side of him
A group of seated people. At the front (at the right-hand-side of the photo) is a man talking to the audience. A group of seated people. At the front (at the right-hand-side of the photo) is a man talking to the audience.
A crowd of people in a large glass house. The crowds are facing to the left of the camera, watching performers. The glasshouse has large plants around its edges. A crowd of people in a large glass house. The crowds are facing to the left of the camera, watching performers. The glasshouse has large plants around its edges.
The top half of a man wearing a traditional Arabic head-wrap, with his hand in the air and a smile on his face as he dances to the music from a band in the background The top half of a man wearing a traditional Arabic head-wrap, with his hand in the air and a smile on his face as he dances to the music from a band in the background
A man and woman dressed in traditional Arabic costume facing each other, dancing. Behind them is an Arabic folk band playing music A man and woman dressed in traditional Arabic costume facing each other, dancing. Behind them is an Arabic folk band playing music
Four dancers - three women, one man - standing in a row. They're wearing traditional Arabic costumes. Four dancers - three women, one man - standing in a row. They're wearing traditional Arabic costumes.
A young woman sitting at a table, having a floral design painted on her hand and forearm with henna by a man. A young woman sitting at a table, having a floral design painted on her hand and forearm with henna by a man.
An Egyptian whirling dervish dancer. He wears a white costume with a red and gold waistcoat and is mid-spin. An Egyptian whirling dervish dancer. He wears a white costume with a red and gold waistcoat and is mid-spin.
The top half of the whirling dervish dancer. He's whirling his skirt above his head (having taken it off) and is smiling at the camera and giving a thumb's up The top half of the whirling dervish dancer. He's whirling his skirt above his head (having taken it off) and is smiling at the camera and giving a thumb's up
The whirling dervish photographed from further behind the crowds. He's spinning his removable skirt behind his head The whirling dervish photographed from further behind the crowds. He's spinning his removable skirt behind his head
A man making falafel. He has two deep-fat friers in front of him and a large, metal pan with falafel mix. He has a scoop in his hand with falafel mix, which he's shaping with a spoon. Behind his hands is a tray with cooked falafel A man making falafel. He has two deep-fat friers in front of him and a large, metal pan with falafel mix. He has a scoop in his hand with falafel mix, which he's shaping with a spoon. Behind his hands is a tray with cooked falafel
Crowds of people in front of the stage in the palm house. In the foreground is a young man, above the crowds, standing on a chair. He's videoing the performance on his phone Crowds of people in front of the stage in the palm house. In the foreground is a young man, above the crowds, standing on a chair. He's videoing the performance on his phone
A crowd of people are dancing in front of the stage, where a band are playing. Behind the band is lots of foliage and trees A crowd of people are dancing in front of the stage, where a band are playing. Behind the band is lots of foliage and trees
A closeup of the band, 47 Soul, playing. In the foreground is the keyboardist, who's also singing into a microphone. Behind him is a large palm tree A closeup of the band, 47 Soul, playing. In the foreground is the keyboardist, who's also singing into a microphone. Behind him is a large palm tree
A crowd of people, photographed from behind. In the foreground is a man wearing a traditional Arabic headwrap. He has his hands in the air as he enjoys the music A crowd of people, photographed from behind. In the foreground is a man wearing a traditional Arabic headwrap. He has his hands in the air as he enjoys the music

 

The Liverpool Arab Arts Festival is an award-winning cultural festival, which has been running on an annual basis in Liverpool since 2002. It features a host of Arabic arts and culture, including music, movies, artists, dancers and performers.

In July 2016, I had the pleasure of helping photograph the festival. I worked both Saturdays and Sundays of the festival, which were the family-oriented days. The four days entailed the following:

 

Saturday, 16 July, World Museum, central Liverpool

Photographing three events:

  • Funoon, a troupe of female dancers, performing a range of traditional Arabic dances
  • traditional storytelling by Alia Alzougbi
  • Arabic-style large-scale calligraphy by artist Nazir Tanbouli

 

Sunday, 17 July, Bluecoat, central Liverpool

The 24 July was one of the main family days, which attracts the largest crowds. I was one of two photographers for the day; I was photographing the indoor events, whilst the other photographer was covering the music and dancing in the garden area.

The events I covered were:

  • more calligraphy from Nazir Tanbouli
  • a dance workshop
  • the children’s art corner
  • a talk from author Samantha Herron

 

Saturday, 23 July, Bluecoat, central Liverpool

The one event of the day at the Bluecoat was Migrant Stories, for speakers and the audience to share their personal stories of immigration and previous lives in other countries.

 

Sunday, 24 July, Palm House, Sefton Park, south Liverpool

The grand finale of the festival, in the beautiful setting of the Victorian-era Palm House in Sefton Park. It’s the most popular day of the festival, with crowds of people coming to watch bands and dancers perform inside the Palm House. Outside, there were stalls selling goods and Alia Alzougbi had a tent for her storytelling.

The day was covered by me and AB Photography, working together to make sure the whole day was captured.

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[…] Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2016 was a feast for the eyes; I absolutely loved photographing it. But, for all the colour and music and sensory overload, it was one of the quieter artists who […]

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[…] photographing the festival for the first time last year, I returned this year to photograph Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2017. And, yet again, it was an […]