Something special caught the interest of Warren Barn’s resident donkeys and cats Basil and Bridgit this week, and it wasn’t food. The barn turned into a unique art gallery for Donkey Week for an exhibition and sale of vibrant oil paintings and watercolours by visiting Egyptian artist Miriam Hathout. Miriam, one of whose paintings was used as the cover for our Middle East report and who painted a Peace Donkey at the Mdina Biennale last year at a project supported by The Donkey Sanctuary, is known for her colourful depictions of donkeys in Egypt.
Miriam bases her paintings on scenes she witnesses in real life—thus, there’s 'Boozo and Amboozo', a painting of a pair of donkeys nuzzling each other against a striking turquoise background, which is based on two donkeys that often visit Miriam’s house in Cairo, bearing a cart with pots and plants for her garden. There are also several paintings showcasing donkeys pulling carts of bananas to the market or transporting men and women, but perhaps the most interesting is 'I Got Tired', which depicts a woman pulling a cart while her donkey rests on it.
“My story with the donkeys started in 2007 when I saw a very cute donkey in the streets of Cairo pulling a cart selling fruits, so I stopped his owner and asked him to take photos of the donkey, which was really quite weird for him and for those in the street,” says Miriam. “I went home and made my first donkey oil pastel sketch, and ever since I started painting more and more donkeys.”
Stephen Blakeway, Director of International Operations, says, “Donkeys are so often marginalised and ignored in the places where they work hardest. It is therefore wonderful to find local artists who see them and show them to the world. We are delighted that Miriam can join us in Donkey Week to show more of her paintings.”
As part of her visit, Miriam also painted a life-size fibreglass donkey sculpture onsite on the theme ‘Donkey Heaven’, with visitors dropping by to interact with her about her art and donkeys in Egypt.
“One of the questions I’m often asked is, ‘Why donkeys?’” says Miriam. “The answer is simple- I just love donkeys. They are and will always be an inspiration to me. I am really delighted and grateful to be invited to exhibit my donkey paintings at The Donkey Sanctuary and get to see all these lovely donkeys. This is heaven to me!”
Miriam’s works will be on display and sale in Warren Barn on Monday (9 May) too, with part of the proceeds from any sales going to The Donkey Sanctuary.