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Lola Tillyaeva holds a diverse array of roles; entrepreneur, philanthropist, environmental activist and at one time, delegate to UNESCO. However, what has always stayed constant is her passion for promoting the cultural heritage of her Uzbek homeland.
One expression of this passion could be witnessed in the film she co-produced with her husband, businessman Timur Tillyaev. Released in 2018, Ulugh Beg: The Man Who Unlocked the Universe tells the remarkable story of one of Uzbekistan’s unsung heroes, Ulugh Beg. Though an entertaining piece of cinema in its own right, the film was a passion project the couple brought to the world.
Now Lola Karimova Tillyaeva has a new project on a more permanent footing – La Maison de l’Ouzbékistan, a gallery in downtown Paris. La Maison displays a carefully chosen selection of Uzbek hand-crafted homewares, hand-woven silk fabrics, timber furniture and unique ceramic pieces. Lola’s team works hard to ensure each item is displayed with information outlining its specific cultural context. It’s like a museum which offers the visitor the option of taking a few pieces home. The folk at Galerie Joseph stopped by and had this to say:
“Just push the door of “La Maison de l’Ouzbékistan” in the heart of the French capital to be transported to a fascinating country. An open window to this country’s rich culture and artisanal ways, the Central Asian gem offers a total change of scenery through the objects and books it offers.”
During her time working at UNESCO as an Ambassador for Uzbekistan, Lola Tillyaeva never tired of seeing how Uzbek art impressed visitors. For Lola, opening La Maison de l’Ouzbekistan is a way of continuing this work. She envisages the gallery as “a cultural bridge between Europe and Central Asia, providing a singular portal to Uzbekistan right in the heart of Paris – a means of introducing Uzbekistan’s rich cultural heritage to a European audience.”
Another prominent project of Lola’s was the publication of Uzbekistan: An Experience of Cultural Treasures to Colour. Lola sees the adult colouring book as a wayr to promote the richness of Uzbek history and culture. The quality of the work is suggestive of this. The hard-cover 144-page book is filled with gorgeous images covering Uzbekistan’s entire 2,000-year history. Arranged by themes, such as architecture, carvings and textiles, each object carries a brief text describing its place in the story of Uzbekistan.
On each facing page the reader finds a detailed line sketch – offering the chance to colour in as they like. One aspect which catches the eye is how each sketch mirrors every feature of the original artifact. Where a piece of an artifact is missing, so too is the same section absent in the sketch. This serves to emphasize the reality of the objects displayed. One reviewer noted how this piqued her child’s interest and stimulated discussion, “My four-year-old and I talked about the importance of the preservation of art and artifacts and learning about other cultures…”
In this way, Uzbekistan not only raises awareness about Uzbek culture but also encourages an interest for art for its own sake.
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