Lola Tillyaeva projects promote Uzbekistan’s rich cultural heritage internationally
Lola Tillyaeva commitment to promoting the rich and diverse cultural heritage of her homeland, Uzbekistan, can be seen in the wide array of projects she has launched. Most recently, she opened La Maison de l’Ouzbékistan, a gallery in downtown Paris. Hosting a carefully curated collection of homewares, fabrics and hand-crafted ceramics, the La Maison team works hard to display them in a way that informs visitors about their specific cultural context. Through this, Lola Tillyaeva envisages the gallery as a bridge that introduces Uzbek culture to a European audience. Visitors from Galerie Joseph said:
“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.”
For Lola, opening La Maison de Uzbekistan is a way of continuing the work she started as an ambassador of Uzbekistan to UNESCO over ten years ago. During her service as ambassador, Lola discovered how intriguing Uzbek art and culture is to many when discovering it for the first time. She sees 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 well-received work of Lola Tillyaeva is the publication of Uzbekistan: An Experience of Cultural Treasures to Colour. A colouring book for grown-ups, it goes far beyond most books in this genre. The 144-page, hard-back publication is packed with gorgeous photographs which tell the story of Uzbekistan’s 2,000-year-old history. The architecture, carvings and textiles depict the diversity of the nation which includes Persian, Siberian and Chinese influences. Each facing page carries a detailed black and white line sketch, which the readers can colour in as they like. The book also emphasizes the reality of each piece. Where a section is missing in the original artefact, so too is that section in the line sketch.
One reviewer noted how this stimulated her child’s interest and led to a discussion about how we perceive and preserve the past. “My four-year-old and I talked about the importance of the preservation of art and artefacts and learning about other cultures…” In this way, Lola’s work not only raises awareness about Uzbek culture but also encourages an interest in art for its own sake.
Another noteworthy project was the film Ulugh Beg: The Man Who Unlocked the Universe. Released in 2018, Lola Tillyaeva co-produced it with her husband, businessman Timur Tillyaev. Though an entertaining piece of cinema in its own right, the film was a real passion project for the couple. A national hero within Uzbekistan, Ulugh Beg still remains largely unknown internationally, a reality the couple wanted to change. Timur, who grew up fascinated by Ulugh Beg, said: “Every time I visited Samarkand and heard about the scientific discoveries made by this celebrated scholar and peace-loving ruler – a man who in the 15th century turned Samarkand into the epicenter of the world’s most advanced studies in astronomy – I thought that his extraordinary story should be told to the world.”
Furthermore, the Karimov Foundation has recently launched a new project promoting Uzbekistan’s rich culture, this time through fashion. ‘Fashion in Uzbekistan: Yesterday and Today’ is the latest of many initiatives from the activist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Lola Karimova Tillyaeva. ‘Fashion in Uzbekistan: Yesterday and Today is an exhibition exploring how fashion has evolved since the 1960s. Housed in Tashkent’s elegant House of Photography, the exhibition tells the story of late 20th century Uzbek fashion through an array of photos, clothes, sketches and magazines – each piece with its own unique history.