Local artist draws inspiration from Madaba’s history, resources

(Photos: Handouts from Raad Theban)
AMMAN — As a student, local artist and architect, Raad Al-Theban found himself drawn to the intricate, carefully crafted mosaics that adorned the walls and stands of stores along Madaba’s Tourism Street.اضافة اعلان

Past the souvenir shops vying for the attention of tourists, Theban told Jordan News the historical city’s wealth of monuments, architectural landmarks, antique floors, and mosaic murals were his early “education” — studying each one to foster his own style and artistry.     

After graduating as an architect and landing his first job, Theban took several courses to expand his skillset, spanning fields such as carpentry, decoration, and virtual reality.

His belief in the importance of education inspired him to pass on his knowledge as he now teaches mosaic art and architectural drawing courses. 

The 29 year old has also completed the Princess Taghrid Institute’s Productive Youth Program; an initiative by His Majesty King Abdullah, which seeks to “ enable craftsmen, with a focus on the youth in all governorates to assist them in developing their products to the highest levels of quality, design, and packaging.”

Theban recounted how His Majesty King Abdullah and Her Majesty Queen Rania had visited him and his peers, noting the positive impact of the Royal gesture on their morale.

“The interest and support of His Majesty King Abdullah revived hope in our souls and raised our spirits,” he said. 

Speaking about one of the most memorable milestones in his career, Theban said: “I designed the Independence Logo in 2018 with a mosaic panel at the Madaba Institute for Mosaic Art and Restoration,” adding that he then went on to receive a certificate in professional mosaic design and production.

Theban has also volunteered with the Madaba Tourism Directorate to study and analyze archaeological sites.

The artist’s work draws on his early beginnings in Madaba, as he uses Precious stones that can only be found there. “For every product, (I use) a specific style. Every piece has a style, materials, and design tied to its specifications and cost,” Theban said. The artisan explained that he coats his paint art with epoxy resin and binds the stones together with cement so that the pieces remain durable.

Theban said that while he preferred showcasing his artwork at an exhibition, because it fosters the confidence of his customers in the quality of the work, operating on social media has given him time to continue learning and honing his craft.  

“At the moment and with the coronavirus pandemic, I will keep working via social media and focusing on training courses and workshops,” he said.

Citing the close connection between tourism and the growth of his business, Theban lamented the “heavy toll” that COVID-19 has had on his work.

He explained that he is currently trying to incorporate mosaics into architectural projects in Jordan, through murals and floors, whether for gardens, villas, or palaces, to offset the effect of COVID-19 on his business. 

Theban called on the government to provide solutions and facilities for craftspeople such as himself to export products abroad, proposing a website that would facilitate promoting, selling, and exporting products.

Read more Culture & Arts.