House of Mirrors
By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) Middle East Correspondent
For many people a broken mirror is steeped in the superstitious belief that the injurious deed will be followed by seven years of bad luck. However, for Lidia Al-Qattan, a renowned Italian artist in Kuwait, a broken mirror would be the inspiration to set her upon the journey of a lifetime. As the wife of the famous Kuwaiti artist Khalifa Al-Qatten, Lidia was often inspired to create her own works of art to impress her husband after he returned from trips exhibiting his artwork in various locations around on the world.
On one such occasion back in the Sixties, Lidiaâ€™s husband was away in the USA as part of a collective art exhibition in Washington, D.C. Prior to his departure her husband had completed a wooden cabinet that he created with his own hands. All that was left to be done was a couple of coats of paint. However, after Lidia was unable to procure some paint she came up with a brilliant idea to really make the cabinet shine. â€œI then remembered I had some pieces of a large mirror somewhere in the house where my three year old daughter, Jalila, had broken sometime ago which I decided to keep.â€ Lidia set to work affixing the broken shards of mirror to the cabinet with some heated wood glue. However, the edges of the glass were still very sharp and dangerous with a child in the home. After completing her design, Lidia mixed together some plaster cement and water to fill in the gaps and make the edges of the jagged mirror smooth. Once dry, Lidia further filed down any remaining rough edges. The result was very pleasing to her eyes. However, the real judge would be her husband as he was set to return home.
Fortunately, Lidiaâ€™s husband was very impressed with her work. And so began her transformation as she evolved into an artist into her own right and used her very own home as her canvas. Over the course of several years Lidia has painstakingly â€˜bedazzledâ€™ every inch of her home with broken mirror pieces in every shade of the rainbow. Today it is a popular tourist destination and museum with visitors taking guided tours every day.
The tour begins in the kitchen, which is called â€˜My World Hallâ€™ and features designs relevant to the mystery of science followed by a walk through â€˜Planet Earth Hallâ€™, or the living room, which is designed along the lines of our Earth and nature. Next, visitors are led to â€˜Zodiac Hallâ€™, which is Lidiaâ€™s now grown daughter Jalilaâ€™s bedroom, and it is covered with sparkling galaxies, planets and all the signs of the Zodiac. Visitors walk through a hallway with a dual theme. Known as both â€˜Shark Hallâ€™ and â€˜Corridor of Nationsâ€™, the journey of shimmering reflected light goes on to enthrall guests with sharks and other wonders of our world. The tour climaxes with breathtaking designs featured in â€˜Sea World Hallâ€™, â€˜Universe Hallâ€™ and â€˜Knowledge Hallâ€™, which also serve as a bathroom, bedroom and library.
The tour begins to wind down once guests reach the â€˜Stairs to Inspirationâ€™. The staircase, which features gilded birds in flight, leads to the first floor that houses separate art galleries for both Lidiaâ€™s and her late husband Khalifaâ€™s work. Many people in Kuwait call her home the â€˜House of Mirrorsâ€™ But for Lidia her home holds greater meaning, â€œI call it the fulfillment of a dream.â€