Located in Houmt Souk in Djerba, Dar Jilani is a hybrid space that combines a café, restaurant, art gallery, and traditional skills workshops into a safe haven for artists. Most visitors’ first impressions upon walking into Dar Jilani are somewhat bewildering. The restaurant and café are designed as warm, inviting space that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. You may find yourself just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view of nature enhanced by the colorful plants in a small but lovely garden sanctuary. Beyond the garden lies a swimming pool awaiting those desiring a refreshing swim.
Perhaps the most spectacular element of Dar Jilani is its underground art gallery with hundreds of items on display. Simple materials generally regarded as junk by most people are beautifully transformed into original artwork. Each art piece emphasizes a blend of creativity and innovation. You will find items such as seashells, spoons, cow shoulder bones, bicycle chains, glass, wood, tomato cans, bottle caps, and other objects that have been turned into recycled art.
The owner and artist Jilani, or his gallery manager are available to explain the process of collecting, cleaning, and creating each art piece in the gallery. The owner Jilani can also demonstrate his canvas painting in 3 minutes and glass painting in just 1 minute.
Each art piece is also available for sale at very reasonable prices. There is an entrance fee of 3DT (Tunisian Dinars) for adults but kids under the age of 12 may enter for free. This small fee helps support the costs of hiring workers to scavenge, clean, and transport these materials from throughout Djerba to Dar Jilani.
The History of Dar Jilani
The name Dar Jilani means ‘House of Jilani’ in Arabic. It is named after the owner and artist himself. Although Jilani never pursued higher education in Tunisia, he is a talented self-taught artist and currently a successful businessman as well. Perhaps due to his art style and form being self-taught, this allowed him to uniquely and creatively render worlds of his own freely rather than depicting the world around the norms and popular styles of the time. When others see an object as junk, Jilani sees it as an unpolished diamond awaiting its finished form of beauty.