On 16 October 2022, we held the 2022 ALCASA Annual General Meeting event preceded by a dabke performance and workshop. More than 60 enthusiastic participants came to celebrate the Arabic folk dance and to contribute to AGM discussion. Dabke, a folcloric line dance was presented by the emerging Turath Arts group who brought such vigour to the stage with joyous music and “Zaghrouta”! The exuberant energy was contagious as everyone joined to dance together – kids, teenagers, elders, Arabic- and non Arabic-speaking community members.
At the afternoon tea, we mingled over a variety of Arabic sweets and drinks, including homemade date cakes, dates and walnuts, Jallab with pine nuts… brought by our beloved community members – Arabic hospitality at its finest!
Thanks to the ALCASA Chairperson and the ALCASA Treasurer, we reviewed the events and activities that happened in the last financial year. We also gained insight into where we are financially, which is important to plan ALCASA’s next exciting community events and activities.
Approaching the final stage of the 2023 exhibition on Hospitality in Arabic Culture, Dr. Birgit Heilmann, Curator of the History Trust of South Australia Migration Museum, led an interactive discussion among community members to finalise the next steps. Everyone’s unique contribution is cherished in bringing this exhibition alive. Within half an hour, we saw how diverse and passionate voices come together to build the meaning of Arabic hospitality.
By Ann Miao Ng and Soyoo Park, Master of Social Work, University of South Australia: Justice & Society
Sabah and wife Lamia admiring artwork in “Home” art exhibition, Campbelltown ArtHouse, Sunday 27/6/2021
في السابع والعشرين من شهر يونيو/حزيران 2021 نظمّت جمعية (الكاسا) زيارة لمعرض فنيّ كبير شارك فيه عدد من الفنانين المحليين من متعددي الثقافات. ضم المعرض 46 لوحة تنوعت في حجمها، وأسلوبها، ومقدار الإبداع المتحقق فيها. شهد المعرض مقدمة احتفائية قدمتها مديرة الجمعية ومؤسستها السيدة فيروز عجاقة، وعقب عليها الفنانون والفنانات المشتركات في تشكيلة المعرض. ومن الجدير بالذكر أن المساهمين في هذه التظاهرة الفنية الراقية قد انحدروا من أحد عشر دولة عربية وأجنبية ضمت كل من سوريا، لبنان، السعودية، تشيلي، فيتنام، البوسنة، إيران، باكستان، السلفادور، الصين، فنزويلا، وروسيا. شارك في زيارة المعرض عدد غفير من الزوار فضلا عن المساهمين فيه. وعلى هامش المعرض أقيمت ورشة فنية للرسم اشترك فيها مع الفنانين المساهمين عدد من محبي الرسم من بينهم رانية وفادي وريم ضو، هناء ذبيان، رؤى الأنباري، موريس كاني وغيرهم كثير
تراوحت أساليب الرسم المختلفة بين الأسلوب الواقعي والأسلوب الرمزي والتجريدي واستخدمت فيها الألوان المائية، والزيتية، والأكريليك، والحبر الأسود، والجاركول، والكرافيت كما استخدم الحرف العربي في تكوين بعض اللوحات مثل لوحة الفنانة هلا ناجي التي جعلت من قصيدة الشاعر العراقي بدر شاكر السياب أيقونة الشعر العربي المعاصر مادة حروفية للوحتها وتجلى ذلك في اشتغالها على الخط الكوفي تحديداً. كما استخدمت الحرف العربي في أدائها فنانة سعودية، منار النغيس، من خلال عدد من لوحاتها التي تجاورت فيها مع التشكيلات التراثية التي قام بها عدد من الفنانين العرب ومنهم الفنان العربي يحيى بن محمود الواسطي المولود في مدينة واسط العراقية على سبيل المثال لا الحصر والتي مازجت بين الرسم كتشكيل فني وبين الحروف كخطوط إبداعية. أو قصائد منثورة على اللوحة أو مبثوثة فيها بطريقة متقنة. أما الفنان الفيتنامي كوك هانج فقد عرض لنا أربع لوحات فنية استخدم في تخطيطها قلم الرصاص (الجرافيت) من بيئات مختلفة مركزا في اللوحات الأربع على جمال المرأة، ورشاقة قوامها، وغنج حركاتها، مع بعض التأثيثات المهمة المكملة لأناقة اللوحة وتكوينها الدقيق. وان لم تخني الذاكرة فقد وجدت لوحات مرسومة بأسلوب الكرافيك لفنانة إيرانية تجلت في رسوماتها حالة البؤس والحرمان والصراع من اجل الطفولة والأمومة المنتهكة. لفتت انتباهي لوحة الفنانة الإيرانية المسماة (حرية الكلام) والتي عبرت بطريقة تجريدية عن تلك الحرية المستلبة وجاءت على ثلاث مستويات الأول بهيئة مشنقة متدلية من اعلى اللوحة الثانوية وهي متميزة باللون الأحمر القاني (لون الدم) والثانية بالأبيض والأسود وهي مزيج بين الأرض والسماء وتشكل الأرض قاعدة للموت والسماء فيضا من النور مستقبلا الأرواح التي ذبحت من اجل حرية الكلام. أما خلفية هاتين اللوحتين فتشكل شراكا شائكة لا مهرب لمن يقع داخلها. اللوحتان الثانويتان واقعتان في هذا الشرك الرهيب وهذا يعني أنْ لا حرية للكلام في عالم اللوحة التي تمثل الواقع المعيش وتدعوا للتخلص منه والتحرر من براثنه وأغلاله الثقيلة
ثمة في المعرض أيضا عدد من اللوحات الإبداعية التي لم تسعفنا الذاكرة على تناولها أسوة ببقية لوحات المعرض فتحية كبيرة لكل الجهود النيرة، والأفكار الراقية التي قدمت لنا زاداً معرفياً وفنياً ونحن في محطات الغربة، وتحية لجمعية (الكاسا) ومديرتها السيدة فيروز التي تثابر على أن تقدم لنا مثل هذه المتعة الراقية
The ALCASA Music Workshop with Julian Ferraretto (Nexus Arts – Creative Cohesion) was an active and engaging experience for all, which was filled with ongoing laughter, listening and learning!
Not only did the kids put their musical talents to the test, but also the adults were tapping and clapping to the rhythmic nature of the diverse Middle Eastern instrumental beats that were produced.
The grand finale was the highlight for most, whereby the audience (adults and children) incorporated Arabic lyrics and tailored them to Ferraretto’s original piece depicting the typical sounds that one would find in a local Souk market. Thus, the scene that followed could only be described as an authentic, musical masterpiece.
We had a most enjoyable “dardasha” session on Sunday 18 March, with much laughter and fun. There were five native Arabic speakers and six others with varying degrees of Arabic fluency.
We were very lucky to have the company of Lur, a young Iraqi writer, newly established in Adelaide. Five years in Australia, honours degree in writing from Adelaide University. She has written a book, hosted conferences, written for magazines and made videos, a very positive role model for women of any persuasion.
Next, another newcomer, Najwa, who came to Australia from Lebanon two years ago, showed us a Triz game which uses a board with shapes drawn on and a white and black pawn.
It was then time for a few of us to talk about a book we have read. Alison commenced with an outline of Juha and his Donkey جحا وحماره. This is a famous Arabic fable wherein Juha is travelling with his son and his donkey. Juha is constantly criticised along the road by various people he meets. He is accused of being cruel or stupid whether he rides the donkey, his son rides the donkey, they both ride the donkey, or they walk alongside the donkey. Eventually he and his son carry the donkey, in an attempt to please everyone. But they are ridiculed for this too. The moral of the story is that you cannot please everyone all the time.
While I did not understand all what Alison said as I am still very much a learner of the Arabic language, it did prompt me to look up the story further on the internet when I got home. There are various YouTube videos of this story and I particularly liked the one by a group of children as part of the “Hands up project”. The video was obviously taken by another young student and it was not a professional video, but it was heart-warming to watch. From my internet searches, I now see that Juha has lots of adventures, all with a moral. Thanks Alison, for introducing me to this character.
Next, Alice spoke about her time in Lebanon as a university student there. She thought it was amusing that one of her subjects in Lebanon happened to be English literature. However, she had an excellent professor and particularly appreciated books about memories of war and the sense of emotion these evoked.
We moved on to Mary, a teacher of Japanese and student of Arabic, who showed a colourful, A3, laminated production of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” الدودة الجائعة جداً. This is a favourite book for young children as the caterpillar eats its way through various fruits and vegetables and ends up becoming a beautiful butterfly فراشة. Mary spoke in Arabic about the book and explained that she had translated it into Japanese and a friend had prepared the pictures from the original book. How’s that – from English, to Japanese and then to explain it in Arabic – fantastic, Mary!
Andrew, displayed a fun book which his young grandson loves – all about cars, trains, planes, buses and trucks السّيّارات والقطارات والطّائرات والباصات والشّاحنات. It was most enjoyable to hear Andrew speak in Arabic about this book and he did an excellent job of describing the various means of transport and stations, along with the colours. He was not sure how to describe the “forty flaps” which his grandson delights in opening, but I believe we settled on “أربعين صورة” in Arabic.
Bruno chose a more serious subject to talk about and he spoke fluently. Bruno enticed us to watch the movie and to read the book بناية يعقوبيان.
It was then my turn to speak and I had chosen a book by a Japanese lady, Marie Kondo, called “The life-changing magic of tidying”. I confess that I had to use Google Translate to find out how to say that in Arabic سحر تغيير الحياة بالتّرتيب. A book on tidying seems rather trivial in a world with daily news of wars and other terrible events, but it seems that many of us are struggling under the weight of too many material things in our homes. The author believes we should only keep items that “spark joy” and this entails holding each item in our hands to decide. She advocates throwing out or recycling everything else that is not essential to our daily lives. It was interesting to learn about the widespread Japanese belief that material things have feelings and they should be thanked for their help in our lives. This book prompted a discussion about the minimalist movement around the world and we discussed expressions like الزهد والتنسك، التقشف
Japanese seems to have come up rather a lot in this article, but we were speaking in Arabic – no matter how basic – and it felt like a very joyful meeting.
We were then joined by the children’s group for afternoon tea where everyone was happy to keep chatting for well over the half-hour allotted time. A big thank you to all involved.
ALCASA Children’s Group held their first session of 2018 on Sunday 18/02. It was a very productive start, with a song to learn, an Arabic story to read and movie making time.
Learning the song, the children were very creative with making dance moves to go with it. I guess it was very challenging for the parents to follow, but lots of fun and laughter.
We also had a book to read, Around the World حول العالم. One of the children was happy to present the story to the group and the parents helped with reading the words and exploring the sounds. The children even managed to write many words on their new scrapbooks dedicated to all the Arabic they will learn in 2018!
ALCASA Children’s Group
Movie making was the hit of the day. The children formed teams, made props from plasticine, small toy animals and Lego pieces. They created their movie story using the vocabulary from the book we read, then they took pictures and recorded their voices to make their movie!
Being at the new location and all what it offers from space, music instruments, a playground, and even an Table Tennis room, made the event a full fun day. As every event in ALCASA ends with delicious shared bites, what a good end that was for those tired, hungry happy kids!
On Sunday afternoon (18/02/2018), we held our first Arabic dardasha meetup. A keen group of Arabic speakers came together for dardasha – an informal chat in Arabic دَرْدَشَة. We usually meet once a month to have some fun, share our ideas and relate our experiences. The February meetup’s focus was recipes. The best part was that these recipes were accompanied by the dishes themselves! We had to describe the recipe in Arabic of course. If we reverted to English, we were given the ‘evil eye’. We learnt so many new words, and remembered ones we hadn’t used for a while.
Arabic dardasha February 2018
As I have a fig tree in my garden, I made fig jam with ginger مُرَبّى النين بالزَّنجبيل. Bruno shared about a poppy seed-cake كَعْك ببّذور الخَشْخاش, Sue about scones كعكات الشاي, Sudas about dates or walnuts filled pastries الكليجة بالتّمر أو الجوز and Fayrouz about shortbread biscuits غرَيْبة. I learnt some new words such as the words and expressions for ‘egg yolk’ صَفار البيَيْض, ‘a pinch of salt’ رَشَّة مِلْح, ‘cover’ غَطّي and ‘jars’ مَراطبين. There was a lot of joking and then we enjoyed the sampling!! Doris served us delicious Lebanese coffee to accompany it all. Sometimes the English words slipped out, but the holder of the ‘evil eye’ was on the lookout.
The afternoon was an excellent opportunity to practise Arabic while enjoying each other’s company. I am looking forward to our next dardasha on Sunday 18/03/2018!