Saudi artist carves career out of wood

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Buraidah-based artist Ali al-Jasser is preparing wood to be transformed into furniture or works of art.

What started as a hobby for Saudi art teacher al-Jasser has now become a business, with some of his items selling for 500 Saudi Riyals, the equivalent of 133 U.S dollars.

“It started as a hobby, with the intention to study it as well, because woodwork is an integral part of art education. Thank god this hobby grew, and I grew with it, and we’re making good profits,” said al-Jasser.

He uses wood from eucalyptus and tamarisk trees, which grow in arid conditions, and are commonly found in parts of Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.

“Most of the wood is from the environment, from the tamarisk tree and the eucalyptus tree. We’ve also started using imported wood from Swedish, but it is natural wood, not manufactured. Thank god the output is good, we produce doors and windows, decorative items, even innovative decorations,” he said.

Al-Jasser’s workshop is stocked with tree branches, ready to be carved into cupboards and trinkets.

Some of the customers say the price is right for the amount of work that goes into making his products.

“With all heritage items, the price is high, in that it’s been carved and it takes a lot of time and effort,” said customer Abdullah al-Sa’awy.

The wooden creations have caught the eye of the province’s association of culture and arts.

President of the association Suliman al-Faiez said he wants to raise al-Jasser’s profile in the kingdom.

“The work of artist Ali al-Jasser, using tamarisk wood to make sculptures is a new experience in using this raw material.

It is also a philosophical one before being a technical one, and so the Saudi association of culture and arts in al-Qassim wanted to embrace this experience, so as to spread it to other parts of the kingdom,” said al-Faiez.

The art teacher turned wood carver has shown his products at a number of festivals in the oil producing state, most recently at the Janadriyah Festival for heritage and culture in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.

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