Born in Saudi Arabia in 1959, lives in Riyadh The Saudi-Arabian artist occupies herself with the cultural values and traditions of her homeland and, in particular, with how they have changed as a result of the influence of globalization and consumer culture. She creates her sculptures by arranging found traditional objects from the Arab world in an aestheticized way. She purchases the objets trouvés at flea markets and junk shops with an interest in how once culturally important objects have been discarded and devalued.

Food for Thought ‘Abraj’, 2015

Chrome steel sheet metal, chased
5 columns, 45 pots, Ø 68, 80, 97 cm, height 220 to 338 cm

Maha Malluh came to the Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen with a project for a permanent installation for the Jeddah Sculpture Museum in Saudi-Arabia. Part of the Food for Thought series, what was concerned was stacking various sizes of a special type of cooking pot that is used over an open fire in the Arab world to create five columns. As a starting point for this work, the artist created a tower consisting of 10 used, aluminum cooking pots. For the in part over 3-meter-high towers for the beach promenade in Jeddah, it was, however, necessary to find a material that is stable and robust on the one hand and, on the other, able to withstand the extreme weather conditions resulting from the heat and solar radiation as well as the salt water air long term. The pots were therefore chased in chrome steel sheet metal in China, based on the model of the originals, and then patinated in St.Gallen. The size ratios were determined based on the aforementioned work by Malluh and the rims of the pots simplified for better stability. Based on the drawings that resulted, a test casting was done in Shanghai. After revising the form once again, the drawings were given to a specialized chasing workshop in China. In cooperation with Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen Sculpture Production (Shanghai), a negative model was produced in fiberglass, and the individual components, which were divided to create a kind of cutting pattern, were hammered into the required form. The chased chrome steel sheet metal was then welded and polished as well as given inner reinforcement with a tube for assembling them on a central pole. To reduce the weight of the works, the rims of the pots were made double-walled, thus suggesting a solidity of the metal, although the shells in themselves are actually made of a thin layer of metal. In our production hall in Shanghai, the 5 columns were then mounted and packed for transport to St.Gallen. The patina, which makes the cooking pots look as if they have been covered by soot from fires, was applied in Switzerland in cooperation with the artist. In March 2016, the Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen supervised the installation of the work in Jeddah, where it has since then been possible to see the columns on the “Al Hamraa” promenade.