It’s not surprising that an island like Kandima that invests so heavily in the arts, also exudes its own striking aesthetic vibe. And the cornerstone of the Maldives colour palette is blue. The moment you walk into reception, you are struck by the dazzling blue reception desk. A cavalcade of azures that hit you the minute you get into Maldivian airspace. Kandima has splashed this tapestry of cerulean shades across its décor from rugs inside to tiled tables outside and a range of accessories and touches throughout. It’s not just the default colour, but the dominant one. Even less prominent spaces, like the fitness centre (photo below) are carefully decorated with blue hues.
Aima Musko and I got way back. When I had just started Maldives Complete and she had just started her career in art. She’s helped me with the website (doing the new logo this past year) and I guess you could say that I helped her as her first customer. I knew that she had been a part of the featured artist series at Kandima, but I hadn’t realised that she had stayed on as an artist-in-residence at the resort until we visited there in July. She caught me up on all the latest and greatest in her artistic exploits as well as her exciting plans for the future. And here in a Maldives Complete exclusive, she is sharing a bit of her creative life on the island of Kandima…
- Which atoll are you from?
G.Dh. Fiyoari (Huvadhoo Atoll) but have always lived in Malè
- What art training have you had?
- Visual Arts in High School at Mahindra United World College of India and Foundation in Visual Communications at The One Academy in Malaysia.
- What is your big frustration as an artist?
- Other than getting easily frustrated as a perfectionist, being limited and restricted as to what can be exhibited here.
- What was the first painting you ever sold (tell us your side of the story)?
- While working at Transparency Maldives in 2011, I was asked to be the artist on a video that was celebrating women and had to make a painting for it. The video “Salhi Anhenun” (Cool Women) was uploaded to YouTube and after a few days I was contacted by the production team saying that they had someone interested in purchasing my painting. I met Bruce at a Cafe in Malè and since that day, I’m so happy to know that my painting has been hanging in his house all the way in UK for the past 7 years!
- What artists have influenced you?
- With Social Media like Instagram, I’m following various artists from all over the world with different mediums and techniques and have been continuously influenced by their styles. However I would say visiting the Art Exhibitions in Malè when I was younger and seeing the works of Artists from Maldives (Afu, Ika and Eagan to name a few) really left a lasting impression on me. Having creative friends and drawing together in school, working in different creative fields.. I’m constantly inspired and influenced.
- What is the biggest misconception about art that you face?
That good art is how realistic you can draw. Also that if you are an artist, you will be good in every aspect of art and the mediums.
- If you could buy one piece of art in the world (money is no object, it could be millions), which one would it be?
A painting by Ika of a Blue lady holding a cigarette that I saw in a house I visited with a friend about a decade ago. It just always stuck with me and I would love to own it for the impact it had on me. The second would be “The Kiss” by Gustavo Klimt.
You can check out her personal online gallery here.
Talk Like A Pirate Day! Maybe one of the best celebrations on the calendar of esoteric days. The remote tropical patches of sand that are the Maldives are something out of a Robert Lewis Stevenson novel. And there is no bigger pirate treasure for active apprentice pirates than Kandima’s towering galleon at its “Kandiland” kids club. The clipper ship complex comes complete with sun-screen netting, water cannons as well as a rabbit warren of climbing walls and slides.
Shiver me timbers!
Kandima has hosted a festival of another sort this summer. A first blush (yes, intended), it might seem like one of those foodie festivals that are spreading across middle-class England, but really is far more traditional (and raucous) than that…
- “Kandima Maldives hosts the first ever Tomato Festival ‘La Tomatina’ in the island nation. The event took place last week on Friday, 31st August 2018 on the resort grounds. In total over 300 people attended the event, which lasted for almost four hours. ‘La Tomatina’ was home to the famous tomato fight, tug of war, mini football, water bucket relay, climb the coconut tree and many other fun-packed beach games. During the event the house DJ entertained the crowd with his party mixes while the barmen were offering free Latino-themed snacks and drinks to everybody. The resort chefs had to lay the tomatoes in the sun for three days prior to the event, which made them ripe and safe to fight with. Fire brigade was also on site and willing to offer their hoses with running water to remove the squashed tomatoes from the participants’ bodies…The festival of tomatoes was held for the first time in 1945 in the Valencian town of Buñol, in the East of Spain 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the Mediterranean, in which participants would throw tomatoes and get involved in a tomato fight purely for entertainment purposes.”
You say “tomato…I say ‘incoming!’.”
Kandima supports the arts beyond their resort and in the community itself with their KUL Initiative:
- “The KULA art initiative was launched on the 5th of October 2017, with a vision to promote and nurture local artistic talent and creativity and essentially open up new horizons for the local art community in the Maldives…The KULA Initiative will also support local schools and artists with equipment, grants and master/classes… With its key component, The KULA Art Festival is the first of its kind annual event to be ever hosted in any resort in the island nation at such a large scale, turning the entire resort into the trendiest, most happening art centre in the Indian Ocean. Every year Kandima Maldives invites over 20 local artists specializing in various mediums including digital, coffee, acrylic, henna, spray paint and local crafts, to unleash their inner Picasso! KULA means ‘colours’ in Dhivehi, the Maldivian language.”
And Kandima is setting out to break the Bohemian “starving artist” caricature by putting money where its mouth is to support these artists with tangible benefits:
- “Kandima will give $1 per occupied room night to the KULA Fund and guests can also make their own donations. The KULA fund will also prosper and increase from the artists themselves. When a piece of art is sold, the artist will contribute a small percentage of the sale to the KULA fund to help it grow. The remainder goes personally to the artist, with no profit to Kandima. “
The artistic community in the Maldives has blossomed in recent years. Far beyond the Bob Ross-style painted coconut husks and tarted up imports from China, Maldives art has become gallery quality with a generation on the vanguard of the Maldivian art scene creating stunning depictions and interpretations of the paradise in which they live and in which the rest of the world is enthralled.
And the showcase for these works is the “Unveiling Visions” exhibits sponsored by Kandima which is taking place right now in the capital Male:
- ”Kandima Maldives is hosting host regular exhibitions and exciting art performances by local artists in the in-house Aroma Art Studio, which is set on the edge of a natural lake inside the island. The venue gives both guests and artists the inspiration and calm space they need to create their masterpieces. The exhibition will feature works by 50 Maldivian artists of ages 18-35; under 6 main categories – painting, drawing, calligraphy art, 3d installation, digital installation and sculpture. Launched in 2017, ‘Unveiling Visions’ will offer live art sessions, workshops, artist talks and fun-filled events for children. Unveiling Visions’ will offer live art sessions, workshops, artist talks and fun-filled events for children. Kandima Maldives will invite the top 15 artists to participate in its annual KULA Art Festival to be held on 28th December 2018. The festival is a perfect marketing platform for showcasing the Maldivian talent to the international audience and will be held for the second time since the resort opening in 2017. All of the inspiring art pieces created during the event will be available for purchase at the in-house KULA Art Studio at Kandima Maldives.”
Sights, spaces and now sounds. Kandima’s artistry pervades its island with a fresh approach that engages its guests and fans. Its artist studio is run by an up-and-coming local artist to produce fresh works as well as to collaborate with the guests themselves. And the same spirit of creative engagement is being applied to the resort soundscape with the Maldives first ever music competition:
- “The first ever ‘Music Boss Wanted! Competition’ invites aspiring music writers, composers, singers and DJs to submit a video to Kandima Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win an amazing US$7000 cash prize and a full-paid holiday to the new island destination – how Kool is that?! To enter the competition, the applicants must upload a short video of themselves singing, playing a musical instrument or DJing to Instagram or Facebook using the unique hashtags #KandimaMusic and #KMusicBoss…Then the TOP 10 shortlisted applicants will be picked, and their videos will be uploaded to Kandima Maldives blog, followed by the K’Music Boss announcement on 21st August 2018. The winner will get a chance to create the Oh-So-Kool playlist with eight tarcks, which will be officially launched during the resort’s grand launch of its new Pool Party Series on 15th November 2018. The K’Music boss will also be setting the K’Mood with their playlist on the resort’s hop on/hop off buses, in all the studios or villas, and during the super Kool events both locally and globally – as a K’Music Boss should!”
The entries to date that have been selected and can be sampled here. But, *NEWS FLASH*, Kandima has extended the deadline to mid-September! So anyone needing a bit more production time (or just finding out about the competition now) can get their creative juices going and join the jamboree.
Kandima is my Golden Buzzer entry in the Maldives’ Got Talent resort show this season. I know Simon Cowell would give it a thumbs up. I can just hear him saying, “From the moment you stepped on stage you had our attention. You have taken a classic and made it your own. It is so inventive, so fresh, so current, so now. The great thing about this show is discovering things that you haven’t seen before. There is definitely a gap in the market for something like this.”
I am a sucker for aesthetic design. So many resorts try to capture the Maldivian spirit by emulating the traditional design and craft. Kandima’s inspiration comes from nature. Predominantly the ocean (with a rich, pervasive palette of blues), punctuated by vibrant greens and touches of palm fronds. Kandima has perhaps my favourite reception area. Like the entire resort that it welcomes you to, it is modern, dramatic, creative. It’s cathedral-like nave opens to the blue skies.
It is no surprise then that I bumped into my favourite Maldivian artist, who is actually an artist-in-residence here – Aima Musko. I was Aima’s first as an artist, and then a customer of hers for design as she re-conceived the Maldives Complete logo and website theme. We have stayed in touch as friends over the years and it was a real treat to meet up with her face to face again at the resort. I knew she had been here when I wrote about the Kandima Artist’s Studio, but I thought that was a short-term event or promotion. It turns out that the Studio is a full time programme that the resort continues to invest in and expand (stay tuned for a profile on this young lady who is a talent show in her own right).
Kandima is ranked as a “4+ star”, but really it stands shoulder to shoulder with about any standard 5-star resort and is in fact far superior to many Maldives properties claiming to be 5-star. The restaurants are as good as any top-flight property and actually, some operators are calling Kandima 5-star whether the resort does or not. If you appreciate design artistry, then Kandima is one of the best value for money options in the Maldives.
Kandima not only has a distinctive horizontal surface, it also boasts one of the most striking vertical surfaces in the Maldives (in fact, you can also see one of the walls behind the table in yesterday’s post). Such hanging gardens are as wonder-ful now as they were in times of Babylon. Last spring, we visited Singapore who’s signature attraction are such gardens draped over giant palm tree shaped frames and illuminated at night with colourful lights set to music. That’s taking natural materials and green design to an entirely new level (well, at least the second floor). Thanks Paola.
Today’s “Best Of” is sort of a “half” have-seen. Like the one in the 12th edition of “Haven’t Seen Yet” (#2) with the ocean inspired table at both Kandima and Kanuhura resorts. I call it “half seen” because while the style is precisely what I thought ideal for a Maldives resort, my fantasy is one constructed based on the actual topology of the island (and its underwater house reef).
Today’s post is also sort of a “Finally Seen”. I’ve been telling resorts for years that they should commission Aima Musko to do art pieces for their villa. She is one of the finest artistic talents in the Maldives and I can proudly say that I was Aimee’s very first customer to buy one of her paintings. Well, finally, Aimee – and a number of other fellow Maldivian artists – are being assembled by a resort, Kandima for their KULA ‘programme’ (they refer to it as an ‘exhibition’, but it is really more like a resident festival):
- “KULA means ‘Colours’ in Dhivehi and it is our vision that this programme will support the full spectrum of the contemporary creative arts, from local crafts, fashion, digital photography, videography to music, and open up new horizons for the local art community like never before. The entire resort will be a glorious art gallery and thanks to collaboration with MAC (Maldives Artists Community, a local art NGO with over 100 members), Kandima Maldives is set to host regular exhibitions and exciting performances by local artists. There will be live art demonstrations and guests can unleash their inner Picasso with classes at Kandima’s very own Art Studio. Set on the edge of a natural lake, it will be one of the most peaceful locations on the island, giving both guests and artists the inspiration and calm space they need to create their masterpiece!”
Colour me delighted.