Posted on July 11, 2017

Award winning photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson will present her critically-acclaimed series of portraits, Skate Girls of Kabul in her first show in the Middle East. Presented by Qatar Museums under the leadership of its Chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the exhibition will be held at the QM Gallery Katara from 20 July – 21 October 2017.

The portraits tell the extraordinary story of Afghan girls who took up skateboarding, thanks to Skateistan, an Afghan charity that provides skate parks as a hook to get children from disadvantaged families back into the educational system. The striking images bring to life the hopeful spirit of these young girls that show a new perspective and dimension to skateboarding culture — one that shows strength in the face of adversity. Commenting on the exhibition, Khalid Al-Ibrahim, Chief Strategic Planning Office at Qatar Museums said:

“We are excited to be the first Middle Eastern country to welcome this inspirational show and share it with the residents of Qatar. Qatar Museums has a long history of sharing some of the world’s best artists and their works with the people of Qatar and the Skate Girls of Kabul is a perfect example of that. It is also a story that embodies a message of hope and perseverance in reaching your dreams, in this case access to education, a message that perfectly aligns with Qatar Museums’ passion for supporting and enabling local communities with access to creative learning environments.”

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The story of Afghanistan’s Skate Girls grabbed Jessica’s attention in late 2012 and she was determined to tell it to the world, sharing its uplifting message and inspiring others to support the Skateistan charity. Jessica created the photo series with the hope of showcasing the happiness Skateistan has brought to the girls whilst not influencing their culture, but working with it. The series was first shown in London at the Saatchi Gallery in 2015, where it was positively received and viewed by more than 74,000 visitors during its two-week run. The Art Newspaper in 2016, revealed that Skate Girls of Kabul came second in the Top Ten most popular International Photo exhibitions of 2015.

Jessica Fulford-Dobson started work as a portrait photographer in 2000, after being introduced to photography when working with award-winning filmmaker Nicholas Claxton on the documentary: ‘Linda McCartney: Behind the Lens’. Since then, Jessica has become an award-winning artist in her own right. Out of over 4,000 submissions, her portrait of Skate Girl won 2nd Prize at The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize Award. Jessica had her first solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London, which displayed the full Skate Girls of Kabul series. The series went on to win the Imagery of the Year Award at the Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChanger Awards in London. In New York, one of the Skate Girls portraits was selected by for the ‘Best of Show’ Exhibition 2015 at the International Photography Awards. The Smithsonian chose the Skate Girls of Kabul book as one of their ‘Top Ten Best Photography’ books of the Year in 2015.

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Tim Marlow, the Artistic Director of London’s Royal Academy of Art, has personally selected QM Gallery Katara’s upcoming showing of the Skate Girls of Kabul as one of his ‘Must-See Museum Shows’ from around the world. Celebrating and embracing the community-based inspiration behind the show, Qatar Museums will set up a skate ramp that will be built on the occasion of the exhibition and open to the public for the duration of the show. A robust education programme has also been developed to complement the exhibition, with many unique workshops and activities available to the public.

Qatar Museums has brought a number of high-profile exhibitions to Qatar with the aim of inspiring artistic interest and expression among the local community. The Skate Girls of Kabul once again brings to life QM’s commitment to displaying works by world-class artists that inspire an indigenous culture of creativity and innovation.