My entry for the Van Cleef/Tashkeel Middle East Emergent Prize

P1010308

A while ago, I posted details about the press conference I went to where I learnt that Van Cleef was holding an annual competition with Tashkeel for emerging artists.

I knew as soon as I went to the event that I really wanted to participate.

After all, the stakes couldn’t be higher – the winner will have the opportunity to travel to Paris to attend courses at L’ECOLE Van Cleef & Arpels. With such an attractive and tempting prospect, I knew I had to crack a shot at it! I set about thinking of ways to interpret the theme. As I said before, the theme of the contest is called “Turning point” which is all about when an artist reaches a state of inspiration and the work comes together.

This is what I sent in to explain my artwork –

As an artist, I have noticed that while painting, there’s a moment in time – a “turning point” where the rest of the world appears to dissolve and melt away and the elements of your piece start to synchronize together. An unfinished painting that is JUST starting to come alive seduces you and leads you to a sense of addiction. All background white noise transitions to uniformed murmured hums and ceases to be a distraction anymore.

P1010230

I wanted to convey this magical metamorphosis to artistic zen in a visual way. My concept was to create an illustrated mural of myself painting abstract lines and paint splashes. I wanted to create random explosions of colours, which gradually turn into exotic birds flying away, thus conveying the painting literally coming alive. By playing around with space and dimension, my aim was to reiterate the idea of artwork coming alive by having it literally come off the paper– the paper being concept or imagination and turning into reality by reaching out from the dimensions and invading the viewers “space.”

And here are some photographs to document the stages of the artwork. The first hurdle was getting the portrait to resemble me. I do a lot of portraits for clients, but I must say, it’s very challenging to draw myself. I tried not to let my vanity get the best of me by chopping and changing too many things as I didn’t want to faff about for too long. I worked from this reference photo taken at the Thrive event I drew live for –

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 4.43.57 PM

The beginning of the mural - the initial portrait

The beginning of the mural – the initial portrait

Once I was happy with that I proceeded to draw the rest of my body. It had to be done in a convincing way where it looked like I was painting. I naturally drew myself in a blazer, since that’s my wardrobe staple! I can’t get enough blazers, y’know!

painting in the rest of the body in acrylics

painting in the rest of the body in acrylics

Then came the fun part. The random splashes of paint. I used bright inks and watered down paints and dropped them onto the mural. I let them merge together and bleed for a little while, then I blew around the paint with a straw creating spontaneous bright splashes. Although I wanted it to look impulsive, I still had to plan the right colours at the right areas because the splashes would be turning into parrots so the right combinations were very important.

Joining the splashes into the birds

Joining the splashes into the birds

image4

After I painted a few birds, I needed to make some extra wings which will protrude out from the board. I did this by cutting them out of cardboard and mixing it with emulsion and a little cement from a hardware store. This quick drying mixture gives the wings a little bit of strength so they won’t be floppy.

Cutting out the wings from cardboard

Cutting out the wings from cardboard

Applying a paste with emulsion and cement on the wings.

Applying a paste with emulsion and cement on the wings.

After that, I painted the rest of the birds and added a few more random drips, splashes of paints and lines to make the painting look more connected as a whole.

image8

I noticed my hand was looking really off too, so I fixed it. This is what the final piece looked like!

I’m pretty chuffed with it! Fingers crossed!!!! 🙂

Final piece

Final piece

Advertisements

The Middle East Emergent Artist Prize

P1000442

Last Wednesday I felt very Holly Gollightly except instead of having breakfast at Tiffany’s, I had breakfast at Van Cleef and Arpels. (Close enough!)

The world-famous luxury French jewellery house had an important announcement to make. They were to unveil the much awaited theme of the Middle East Emergent Artist Prize that day. A handful of journalists, bloggers and people from the media industry were invited for an exclusive press conference at the jewellery boutique in Dubai Mall that morning.

In the sparkling warm glow of Van Cleef and Arpels, we all waited eagerly for the hot new news and were served macaroons in the meantime. (which if you ask me are even better than breakfast, so I guess I one-upped Holly on that account!)

Allan Belloir, managing director of Middle East India Van Cleef proceeded to tell us that Van Cleef has always had a rich history of being very much involved in the artistry of jewellery and the overall design and creative process. The art of design is a concept that they hold very dear to them. This is why they have collaborated with gallery Tashkeel and Design Days Dubai to support and nurture talent in the region with a competition open to artists of all disciplines.

Alan Belloir

Alan Belloir

“The Maison is an ardent defender of the artistic and design crafts and we are proud of our partnership with Tashkeel and Design Days Dubai that highlights this year the process behind works of art,” said Belloir. “We are looking forward to welcoming the winner at L’ECOLE Van Cleef & Arpels, where we share and teach knowledge and in our workshops where he will discover the secrets of the virtuoso craftsmanship that give birth to timeless creations.” This exciting contest is in their second year, and the theme for this year is called “Turning Point.”

Anabelle de Gersigny, manager at Tashkeel gallery went on to explain more about the theme. She mentioned that “Turning Point” is to focus on that beautiful moment the artist experiences when their work and their ideas just starts coming to life and flowing. In other words, that “eureka” moment.

This theme is aimed at shedding light on the creative process, highlighting the moment in the evolution of a project when the maker finds their voice – the point when they have understood, through the working process, the nature of the planned final work.

Anabelle de Gersigny

Anabelle de Gersigny

“In its second edition, The Middle East Emergent Artist Prize will draw on a lot of different media and practices, with works from artists all living and working in the Middle East,” stated de Gersigny. “Looking to works that may remain hidden away in the recesses of the artist’s studio is important for Tashkeel as a place where makers find space and time to develop their practice within the context of discerning and constructive criticism and discourse.”

Van Cleef & Arpels will reward the winner with a trip to Paris to attend courses at L’ECOLE, founded in 2012 with the objective of unveiling the very secretive worlds of jewelry and watchmaking, and sharing the most precious asset of the Maison: its savoir-faire. The winner will also be among the privileged few to enter the universe of Van Cleef & Arpels workshops where the Mains d’Or™ resides, the master craftsmen who give form to the Maison’s most sophisticated High Jewelry creations.

As well as being able to experience to attend the courses at the prestigious L’Ecole, the artwork of the awarded artist will be unveiled on the Van Cleef & Arpels stand at Design Days Dubai 2014, the world’s most diverse design fair that showcases local, regional, and international collectible modern and contemporary design pieces, whilst a selection of applicants will also be invited to participate in Tashkeel’s March exhibition, including a range of artists from the Middle East from the emergent to more established figures.

Cyril Zammit, Fair director of Design Days Dubai

Cyril Zammit, Fair director of Design Days Dubai

Last year's winner Salem at the VCA Ecole

Last year’s winner Salem at the VCA Ecole

As an artist working in Dubai, I am thrilled to hear about this breakthrough and the competition. It’s such an exciting new development and an amazing opportunity for artists in the region to not only showcase their work on a global platform, but to have the chance to experience working alongside one of the most elite, world-renowned luxury jewelery houses in Paris.

I am definitely interested in participating in this! I already have a few ideas swimming in my head and will be posting my artistic progress on the blog.

Fingers crossed and stay tuned! 🙂

low