Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Monday, 10 January 2011
Cardiff students weave links with Kuwait
A bedouin woman weaves Al Sadu textiles. Photo by permission of Sadu House Museum, Kuwait
Al Sadu textiles are traditionally woven by Bedouin women

A group of textile students from Cardiff are hoping to reignite interest in traditional Bedouin Arab weaving and win an exclusive contract in Kuwait.

Students from the University of Wales Institute of Cardiff (Uwic) have taken part in a competition run by a Kuwaiti company to design a tableware range.

Their tutor Dr Keireine Canavan has family in Kuwait and forged links with a local firm during research trips.

The winning designs will be announced by the end of January.

The students taking part in the competition are all in the final year of the contemporary textiles course at Uwic.

Their course director Dr Canavan recently spent a nine month sabbatical at Sadu House Museum, Kuwait, researching the ancient Bedouin Al Sadu woven textiles.

Contemporary textile students at Cardiff School of Art and design show off their Al Sadu competition designs

Bedouin women would use goat fleece and camel yarns to weave their tents, furnishings, floor coverings and camel bags.

The designs traditionally feature geometric patterns, usually in the desert colours of red and orange, woven by hand with simple looms.

It was after giving a lecture on Al Sadu textiles that Dr Canavan met Laila al Hamad, who runs Zari, a design company based in Kuwait.

Ms al Hamad was looking to create a range of table linen based upon contemporary interpretations of Al Sadu designs.

But due to a declining interest in traditional crafts in an increasingly westernised oil-rich Kuwait, she was unable to find anyone suitable to do the work.

The two women then came up with idea of running a design competition for the Uwic students.

An example of traditional Al Sadu design. Produced with kind permission Al Sadu Museum, Kuwait
Camel and goat hair is woven in the colours of the desert

"The interaction between the two cultures of the UK and Kuwait is an important factor, as is the spread of knowledge about traditional Bedouin Al Sadu textiles, which are fast disappearing from the Middle East, with little apparent interest from the younger indigenous generations," said Dr Canavan.

Despite having no experience of Bedouin art, thirty two final year students submitted designs.

An initial shortlist of 10 was drawn up, and the winner will be chosen from four finalists - Claire Birkbeck, Anna Brancale, Charlotte Duffy and Grace Haddrell.

Dr Canavan added: "The competition has been a very positive experience for the students.

"It's opened their horizons to different cultures and also given them experience of working with traditional designs to a commercial brief."

The designs will be produced in Italy and India and sold across Kuwait and the Gulf states.

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