Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 10th, 2013

“Harvest of Dust” (Ghallet al Ghabra): Cultural event kicked off by sculptor Bernard Ghoussoub

A few Lebanese artists are keeping the cultural events alive and kicking. Bernard Ghoussoub made the worthy efforts to organize the showing of his 90 sculptures (as he was planning) in pomp and taste.

Last evening, Saturday July 6, 2013, I attended this beautiful event in the Mar Maroon nun convent of Kuneitra, Beit-Chabab. The display of the sculptures will extends to Sunday.

At 7 pm, over 300 people were already there and sitting in the open air, under four high and large oak trees. Scores of poets, singers, and musicians entertained the audience before we were shown the area of display of the sculptures. The violin player, Cynthia Kussayer, accompanied the national anthem.

Rima Dagher Abi Khair was the event presenter.

Isabelle Kayayan and a young piano player played Chopin on the piano while we were touring outside the green patio and inside the arcaded hall.

The singer Nader Khoury of the Four Knights group sang a piece from “The prophet” of Jubran Khalil Jubran. The beautiful and elegant Reine Ashkar (daughter of mukhtar George Z3aqiter) sang five awesome typical Lebanese poetic songs, mostly from the words of late music composer Zaki Nassif.

The minister of culture sent his representative Naji Khouri. The dean of the Art School at the Lebanese University, Mohammad Hosni Haj, had a short speech, Claudia Chamoun Abi Nader and Dr. Elias Haj followed in delivering more speeches. George Chakkour delivered a lengthy poem.

The five artisans working for Bernard presented him with a large sculpture. They are the backbone of his artistic business, and three of them aided Bernard in erecting the humongous 9-meter sculpture in India on behalf of the industry in the city of Patna ( an agglomeration of 22 million). The monument weight 97 ton took 2.5 months to display for lack of modern equipment in the city.

Oliver, Bernard Ghoussoub eldest son, is following in his dad footsteps and will enroll as architect this coming fall. He is already the right hand of his father and designs and works on the marble in the shop, and uses the computer to fine tune with details the artistic sketches into blue prints.

Bernard showed a video describing how he started and the process that kept him going. At the beginning of the civil war, Bernard won the first prize for carving a wooden piece, which was the catalyst for choosing this line of profession.

He offered a special sculpture to each speaker.

At the end of the event, Bernard signed his book ($25) called “Ghallet al Ghabra” (Harvest of Dust). I was told this edition was sold out by Sunday night.

A few deputies and politicians came, among them Ghassan Moukheiber.

Bernard comes from a line of potters: His father and uncles helped his grandfather in the pottery family business and it was an eye opening to watch a handful of clay transformed into a structured piece of art.

Harvesting dust has another protracted hidden story.

Bernard is a close cousin and his house is next to mine. I recall Bernard carving and polishing funky tree trunks and roots at the age of 13.

My sister Raymonde was enrolled in Interior Design (Decoration) at the Lebanese University, and Bernard used to pay her visits and help her with her projects when he was in secondary schools. I guess Raymonde was an inspiration and Bernard graduated an interior designer.

What started as carving and polishing woods led to painting old houses. The next stage WAS CARVING AND POLISHING STONES AND MARBLE BLOCKS.

For 15 years, the neighbors had to suffer a very dusty environment: Dusty trees, dusty balconies, dusty windows… The workshop was practically open air and the neighbors were of the fussy kind of perpetual cleaning, and the dust was a calamity and cause for frequent frustration and outright anger.

A few official complaints were lodged, claiming that this is a residential areas and people health are suffering…. The business of mass producing stone plaques for first communion events and other yearly ceremonies turned pretty dusty and exacerbated the frustrating to the neighborhood… Particularly that the workshop barely used chisels, but mostly electrical sawing and cutting tools…

Rumors want it that the police (darak) used the formal complaints as opportunities to make ends meet.

Finally, Bernard had the workshop covered and supposedly a conduit was directing the dust into a water container. And Bernard rented a place in an industrial (quarry) area to manufacture the large and heavy pieces of artwork.

I had often advised Bernard to using safety goggles and masks since this job is rather dangerous. The workers’ faces looked totally white and dusty. It turned out that using these paper masks hinder the tasks.

I think that the paper masks do not significantly reduce health hazard. On the contrary: the mask induces you to inhale more forcefully air, and more dust enter deeper your lungs and intosystem.

It is a hazardous and unhealthy job, and only young people mindlessly do these jobs: “I feel healthy…”, but not 20 years from now…

A few of Bernard’s accomplishment, wishes and plans

1. Bernard is planning to institute a permanent display showroom for artists, and a workshop attached to it to welcome the artists and cooperate, for free. The mayor of Beit Chabab, Mousseh Ashkar, announced at the event that the municipality is working on satisfying Bernard’s wish.

2. On August 7, 2011, Bernard organized the event of installing the beautiful sculpture representing the various industries that the town was famous in. This amazing sculpture is facing the municipality town hall.

3. On July 10, 2012, Bernard was honored in Byblos for designing and carving the sculpture representing the Lebanese immigrants

Note: Bernard Ghoussoub was born in 1963. He  is an interior designer and earned a doctoral degree in landscaping four years ago. He teaches at the Art and Architecture school of the Lebanese University, and is the chairman of Interior Design department. His business is called FOU…NOUN




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