Wemmy De Maaker
My name is Wemmy de Maaker and I’m the founder and Managing Director of Mawaheb.
It was my dream to give young adults with special needs a voice, a voice of their own, independent and strong. I wanted their voices to be heard, listened and accepted by everyone in our society. Working towards equality for all is a goal I will never stop working towards.
I started Mawaheb from Beautiful People in October 2010. It is an art studio for the ‘Determined Ones’, those with special needs who deserve to be recognised and rewarded for their talents. We create an environment where our students are motivated and challenged to become the best they can possibly be. Through the medium of art they can explore the world and themselves to become independent, accepted and integrated members of our society.
My strongly held belief is that everyone, regardless of race, gender, nationality and perceived intelligence has the absolute right to be treated with dignity and respect. I too believe that every individual has talent and with the right encouragement and support they can fulfil their potential to become active and creative citizens. At Mawaheb, we accept and celebrate the differences of all our students – we embrace and support them, be they: wheelchair bound, hyper-active, sight or hearing impaired, traumatised, with an extra chromosome or with a different perspective. All are welcome.
We love to welcome visitors to our studio, to share our success, our talents and our stories. Everyone is always welcome at Mawaheb, please join us.
"It was my dream to build a community for those with special needs and now that community, lives and thrives through art, at Mawaheb."
The heart of my job as a mentor and teacher at Mawaheb is to release in our artists the cathartic and positive power of self-expression through art. ‘The Determined Ones' have a resilience and tenacity that is completely inspiring; while I teach them about life skills they teach me what life is about.
Art for me is a journey, a journey which facilitates personal growth and exploration. The joy that art brings, both in its creation and its consumption is for all. It is not just for the elite or the gifted – it is and can be life changing for everyone. At Mawaheb we aim to bring about positive change through our art. I was always taught from an early age that when you learn you teach, but as my life continued, what I realise is, that while I teach I learn, and there is so much to learn from our Mawaheb artists.
Through various artistic media at Mawaheb, we look at life and we look at ourselves. It is only through this process that we can all grow. 20 years ago my daughter Zara was diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder that changed mine and my families life forever. It was, and still is the adaption to this life changing diagnosis and those of many families in the UAE, that inspires so much of my work at Mawaheb. Our artists work extremely hard and with love, some of them having to overcome huge obstacles, be they physical or emotional. One of our jobs is to work towards the elimination of prejudice and encouraging recognition for the ‘Determined Ones’ these goals are a huge motivational force in my life. It is all about creating confidence in our artists and from that encouragement comes, great independent artists and great art. Greatness however, also lies in the process of the growth of our artists which beautifully culminates with the healing strength of creativity.
"Everyone’s voice has a right to be heard and we shout loud and proud at Mawaheb."
Throughout my life I have believed in the power of art as a transformative medium, in all its’ many forms, from urban art to sculpture and everything between. For the last 20 years I have been fortunate enough to work both as a professional artist and a teacher, and have seen this belief become a reality both for my students and for myself. It is this self-discovery and personal growth through art that is at the heart of my work at Mawaheb.
The goal for me at Mawaheb is to release in all our students their creative potential and with that, the self confidence that many lack, but all deserve to feel. Through our work in the sculpture studio, I take students through an holistic, creative journey. The process is fundamental to the expression of their talents and ownership of their work. It starts with research and follows through to design, fabrication and completion. All these stages need concentration, attention to detail as well as physical dexterity and skill. Our students never fail to inspire me with the tenacity and dedication with which they embrace their own creative journey.
Creativity lies within all of us and the love for my work at Mawaheb comes from the richness of our students inherent, unique abilities. Art isn’t just about a lesson it is all around us and inside us, whoever we are, wherever we come from. Part of my job is to provide the journey that leads from a private inner vision to a shared piece of art, one which our students will be proud of and one which will be admired by all those who see it.
“Our students never fail to inspire me with the tenacity and dedication with which they embrace their own creative journey.“