Ehtifal Family Festival 
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

On Saturday 6 July 2013, the Serpentine Gallery and the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) presented the Ehtifal Family Festival, celebrating the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture. This free, one-day family festival placed the Fischli/Weiss sculpture, Rock on Top of Another Rock, and the Sou Fujimoto Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in a fantasy landscape linking Kensington Gardens to Qatar.

Below, three young visitors describe their experiences of the festival:

Guy

Saturday 6 July, 2pm

When I saw the sculptures they amazed me. We discovered the hat making stall. These were inspired by the UK and Qatar. The objects were made of everyday objects. My hat was made of silk. I made it to look like an important Arab person’s hat. I learnt some Arabic words. I learnt how to say, “Hello” – “Salaam aleykum” – and “I am Guy” – “Ismi Guy”. The printing area was neat. Kalu printed his name. This is a Brazilian name.

When I met Julia Peyton-Jones, she asked me: “How well do you think you’ve done on the blogging”. I answered: “I think I’ve done quite well.” I climbed the rock and I was very afraid because I thought the rock was going to fall on top of me. It was leaning over me. It made me feel very anxious. I went and saw the dog and tried to catch it. After that I wanted to do a whole new hat.

Guy Phillips, aged 7

JuliaSaturday 6 July, 3pm

We looked around and decided to start at the first workshop, which was the building workshop. Here, the children used everyday materials such as sticks, wine corks, glue and plastercine to create imaginative buildings, houses and key landmarks of Qatar and London. This activity was meant to bring the two cities together. At this workshop, a girl called Charlotte, who lived in Dubai, said: “I’m making a building, similar to the ones I’ve seen at home.”

Julia, the director of the Serpentine Gallery, told us what it was all about, and how this event brought these countries together: “This is an important festival, for the collaboration of the QMA with the Serpentine Gallery.” She explained that it was a family day and everyone of all ages was welcome to join in these free activities.

Kareem and Jackson who were artists were running the second workshop. They both had the same idea, of creating stamps with letters on them. Jackson designed the English alphabet and Kareem created the Arabic figures. All the names and places that are made by the children were shown in the hourly parade representing their interest in the growing link.

Another intriguing activity was the costume making. This was for children to explore their imagination through creating headdresses and collars that symbolized London and Qatar as one. These creations were a fun way for the children to explore their different ideas about futuristic and Arabic influenced clothing.

The most interesting aspect of the day had to be the story telling, which was led by a woman who spoke both Arabic and English. She was telling a traditional Arabic story, which was based on Cinderella. This was told in parts, hourly, while a live illustration was projected behind her. Presenting the story visually helped the children understand and keep them interested longer.

Shaikha, a Qatari producer, described the activities in London and Qatar as being incredibly similar. In both countries the activities are culturally centered. She is glad that they have been able to bring this remarkable festival to London.

Lulwa Qattan, aged 14
Rita Kastrati, aged 14