Ramses Wissa Wassef
Ramses Wissa Wassef (born 1911 in Cairo, died 1974), was a visionary architect and designer who built many celebrated buildings in Egypt. He was an enthusiastic educator and taught Architecture at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo. Ramses was a creative artist, potter and weaver who changed the life of many Egyptian children by teaching them how to weave their dreams into tapestries.
He studied at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Paris; his thesis project A Potter's House in Old Cairo received the first prize in 1935. He had a passion for beauty in form and said One cannot separate beauty from utility, the form from the material, the work from its function, man from his creative art.He was a friend of the poor and believed in architecture for the benefit of the poor and the community. He used natural materials like stone and wood. He loved flexible architecture that accepts additions and revived ancient methods of building in some of his projects near the Pyramids. One of his trips to Aswan inspired building the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center.
Architecture and Design
Ramses Wissa Wassef designed and built several well known buildings in Egypt, including the Rames Wissa Wassef Art Center near the Pyramids on Sakkara Road, Giza.
Creative Art Education and Tapestries
Wissa Wassef attempted to prove that art is innate in everyone and it can flourish in spite of the 'deadening influence of mass production' that he believe killed creativity. He set out to prove that children can all grow up to artists if they are encouraged to work in art and live surrounded by other artists.
He founded the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center in 1951 near the Pyramids to teach young Egyptian villagers how to create art and tapestries. He believed that "All children are endowed with a creative power which includes an astonishing variety of potentialities. This power is necessary for the child to build up his own existence."
Example Tapestries from the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center
Wissa Wassef taught the children to express themselves by weaving tapestries. Weaving these tapestries at the Center was a lively and creative process for the children because no preliminary drawings were used. By the end of the 1960s Wissa Wassef's Art Center was well known in many countries and was a favourite stop for tourists in Egypt.
Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center Exhibits
Today, the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center is thriving and even after its founder died in 1974; the Center is still famous for its experiment in creativity and its lively tapestries. In 2006 the Art Center organized an Exhibition at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London to commemorate its 50 year journey in creativity. Some pictures from this exhibit are here