Located in Houmt Souk in Djerba, Dar Jilani is a hybrid space which 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 colourful 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 art work. Each art piece emphasizes a blend of creativity and innovation. You will find items such as sea shells, 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.
Jilani’s friends working in the tourism industry not only recognized his artistic talent, but they also foresaw an opportunity for him to introduce something fresh and attractive for tourists. Through the encouragement of his friends, Jilani finally established Dar Jilani in 2011.
Some visitors staying at the hotels in the nearby touristic zone visit Dar Jilani to spend the entire day there. They can take private calligraphy lessons, learn how to cook traditional Djerbian food, enjoy a delicious lunch, go for an afternoon swim in the pool, and enjoy some evening band music before returning to their hotel. Other visitors are happy to just spend a short time at Dar Jilani.
The Future of Dar Jilani
Those who had visited Dar Jilani in the past will notice and appreciate the continual improvements within the facility throughout the years. Dar Jilani will always be a place that is created by an artist for artists or those who appreciate beauty and creativity. In an interview with the owner Jilani, he highlights some of the exciting upcoming developments for next year in 2018.
Visitors to Dar Jilani in 2018 will be able to stay overnight in suites inside the mansion located on the premise. Whether it is just one night or an extended vacation, Dar Jilani welcomes individuals and families to spend their time at their rental home.
Starting in 2018, visitors will have the option of going on a boat ride to the nearby peninsula Ras R’mal. You will arrive in the late afternoon just in time for a nice swim in the clear turquoise sea water and then enjoy a perfect view of the sunset. Finish your time there with a fresh BBQ before returning to Dar Jilani.
Visit Dar Jilani
Dar Jilani is open daily from 9am to 4pm. Evening celebrations featuring live band music are held every other day. Special events can be arranged upon request with the owner. Dar Jilani has the capacity to host a maximum of 60 guests at a time.
Visit the Dar Jilani Facebook Page