Hetty Feather Review at DUCTAC

Lately, I’ve been getting an insatiable hankering for a bit of culture.

I had heard rave reviews about the play Hetty Feather and so I spontaneously decided to catch the matinee show on the very LAST day at DUCTAC.

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Hetty Feather is based on the book by renowned English writer Jacqueline Wilson, whose books are world famous with over 30 million copies being sold in the UK alone.

As soon as the play started, I felt completely engaged in the plot and the creative and highly personal way it was narrated.

Set in the Victorian era, the story centers around feisty headstrong redhead, Hetty Feather who was abandoned by her mother and given up to the Foundling Hospital as a baby. The plot highlights her ongoing quest to find her biological mother as well as her relationships and experiences along the way.

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There was a very small but solid cast, with some actors playing multiple roles. This could have been confusing, but the context was made very obvious due to the fact that the actors were incredibly talented, versatile and highly multi-faceted.

The sets and scenery were simple and improv was highly relied on. This is not a disadvantage and it was still captivating because it encouraged the audience to use the art of pretend, making it even more magical. The circus scenes were particularly entrancing.

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There was an emotional roller-coaster element portrayed throughout. It had the perfect balance of pulling at your heart strings, yet not being too overwhelmingly heavy or depressing.

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Although essentially a children’s story, the content was relatable to everyone.

All humans crave their own idealistic interpretation of “happily ever after.”

Like Hetty, we go from hurdle to hurdle and just when we think we have sussed it, we get smacked unexpectedly with a cold hard dose of reality.
The play deals with this theme this beautifully, but illustrates that despite it all, everything isn’t always doom and gloom. Life has an imperfect beauty and the random nature of it should be embraced, cherished and celebrated.

It also highlights the compassion in human nature and that the pursuit of happiness is an adventure within itself. .

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Exceptional acting with a compelling, charming story.

Needless to say my thirst for culture was, indeed, quenched.

The Big Picture Opening Night

So imagine that you are in an art gallery featuring an array of local UAE artists.

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You’re nibbling on canapes as you chat with your arty friends. Everything is pretty laid back and chilled out and you’re enjoying looking at all the impressive artwork. You turn to your left and BOOM!

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series,  Swan

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series, Swan

A Dali.

An ORIGINAL, honest-to-goodness Salvador Dali which is so close you can just reach out and touch it!

No need to go all the way to Barcelona to have this experience; it happened right here in Pro Art Gallery, Jumeirah on the opening night of The Big Picture on May the 5th.

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Curated by artist Ram Nath, The Big Picture is now in its second edition and is under the patronage of His Highness Shiekh Khalid Bin Mansour Al Thani.

As well as Dali, other legendary artists that were featured at the exhibition included Banksy, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

All their original works were exhibited side by side with 45 local artists from the UAE. The best part was there were no walls or barriers separating the legends from the contemporaries.

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

“The idea of including internationally renowned legends and UAE based artists supported the main goals of The Big Picture, which is to demolish any boundaries or categorization that may limit the artists or their thought processes.” Nath explains.

The exhibition has alot of diversity as it explores multifaceted artistic creations featuring painting, photography, sculpture, digital art, performance art, installation as well as sound and video arts, by emerging and established artists.

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The gallery was packed with an assortment of art aficionados soaking up the atmosphere.

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The interesting part about this exhibition was it had a highly personal touch as there was an audio guide available.

It allowed the viewer to wander around at his/her own pace with headphones on and listen to each artist talk about their themes and inspirations behind their pieces.

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The energy was infectious and the talent was indeed awe-inspiring.

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Here are a couple of photos of my work at the exhibition …

My work at the gallery

Free as a Bird, acrylic on board,

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Thanks to The Big Picture, someday I can brag to my future grandkids that I was featured in the same exhibition as Picasso!

If you have not seen it yet, you’d best skedaddle as the exhibition continues until the 24th of May!

Chanel Cruise Show Illustrations

Just incase you have been living under a rock and hadn’t heard – the Chanel Cruise Fall show took place in Dubai recently.

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It was held on an exclusive luxurious island just off the coast which was made JUST for the occasion.

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If my tone appears to read tinged with an ever-so-slight tone of bitterness, it’s because I AM still rather sore I did not attend. (super exclusive invite only!)

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Oh well! I’m over it!! All is fair in love and fashion 🙂

Now that I’ve got my emotional trauma behind me (!) Let’s talk about the collection …

The level of luxury and opulence at this show reminded me a lot of Karl Lagerfeld’s interpretation of India is his pre fall 2012 collection. (One of my favorites!)

Similarly, this one was also very lavish and plush but with a very sophisticated 1001-Nights/ Arabesque twang to it.

I liked the contemporary tailoring contrasted with the fluid billowing shapes such as the harem pants and elegant flowing tunics with ethnic shoes. Tres Aladdin!

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The signature tweed textures made cameos, both in light variations and more stronger monochrome tones. I was particularly enchanted by the folksier prints in sheer chiffon kaftans. I also loved the tribal embroidered fabric (Bedouin inspired, perhaps?)

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It wasn’t all soft and demure, though. For instance, I appreciated the odd lamé metallic trouser thrown into the mix; unexpected and added edge!

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MOST of ALL I loved those AWESOME bejewelled moons.

They added such a wonderful ethereal, exotic touch, especially paired with the models’ smouldering, sultry eye make up!

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The gorgeous fabrics and textures stirred up some creativity inside me. Here are some fashion illustrations I created of the show.

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Playing Dress up at Dark Horse Event Management

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This Saturday afternoon, I plan to venture where NO fashion blogger has EVER gone before ….

The Middle East Film and Comic Con, that’s where!!!!

For three days, the world trade center is transformed into a wonderfully weird and and magical land full of limited edition comics, anime, manga and gaming!

Although we often jest that Comic Con is solely for geeks, I have to say – I beg to differ.

I went last year, and I found it really creative – ESPECIALLY the outfits! I think it’s wonderful how everyone makes such a huge effort with costumes. Last year, I looked wistfully and enviously at everyone else’s amazing ensembles. They ranged from classic superman get-ups to retro super-nes characters…I even spotted a few Japanese lolita cosplay outfits! It was AMAZING.

Alas!! It would be a waste for me to purchase an outfit that flamboyant just for this occasion. After all, I don’t go to conventions like this very often (shocking I know!)

What I NEEDED was a costume “fairy godmother” …

Well, I found one …. In the form Dark Horse Event Management…

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They are the largest creative production & entertainment house in the Middle East and they organise various events, PR and marketing activities for brands and clients, as well as providing a unique brand of entertainment.

As well as this, they also offer costume rentals for fabulous prices!!!

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When I found out about this, I dared by art blogger BFF Danna from dannawrites.com to come join me to play dress up!!! Being the gutsy woman that she is, she accepted my challenge (much to my delight!) Even though comic con is predominantly about comics…as far as costumes go, anything goes …

Let the games begin!

We started off innocently enough, just trying on a few hats. Something subtle to warm us up …

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That Danna! Honestly, I don’t know why she insists on ruffling feathers …

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Here she is again, looking like an extra from The Lion King.

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This…Is….SPARTA.

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I experimented with the Mad Hatter look, whilst Danna opted for the “sexy zebra” (The actual description..which really intrigued us)

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Let them eat cake.

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If Marie Antoinette was a Dubai blogger, this is would be her #ootd pose.

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We then felt the urge to partake in a dance.

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Here’s Dana as a regal White Queen.

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It all got a bit stressful for her, so she took a few minutes to do some serious reflecting …

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OFF with YOUR head.

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That about wraps up our bizarre-yet-brilliant fashion show. If you are ever in a dire need for costumes, I’d highly recommend to pay Dark Horse a visit. As you can plainly see, their handmade costumes are highly unique with their gorgeous little details and they obviously have a huuuuuuge variety, as we’ve demonstrated!

Can you guess what I will be dressed up as?

Hint! I will be chasing a little white rabbit …

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What do you know? I guess blondes DO have more fun!

Choix Project and Live Painting

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Personally, I love Paris.

Like the song says – both in the springtime, when it sizzles AND in the winter when it drizzles. Aside from being the city of l’amour, what I like about it is how unashamedly chic the fashion is. It’s the kind of style that never goes out of fashion. It’s timeless.

In the era of baggy boyfriend jeans, slouchy blazers, and shaggy Alexa Chung coifs, I admire the femininity and the classic details that make Parisian women in a style league of their own. This is why In a heartbeat, I’d choose haute couture Paris fashion week first over any others.

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Katch PR approached me one fine day and explained that they needed an illustration project for the their advertising campaign which was was all about bringing the aura of Paris to Dubai. The STYLE of the quintessential “fille a paris.” This meant, stripes, ballerina flats, oversized buns, bardot necklines and full skirts.

They were speaking MY language.

They proceeded to explain that world famous French chef, Pierre Gagnaire, owner of the eponymous Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Paris was opening up a new luxury patisserie at Intercontinental Dubai Festival City.

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What they needed from me were a couple of contemporary, clean illustrations depicting glamorous stylish women next to the Dubai skyline using the Choix colour scheme and showing the monogrammed shopping bags.

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This is how the final ones turned out. I wanted to show how multi cultured the city of Dubai is, so for one illustration we opted for a glamorous lady in an abaya and for the other, more European inspired attire. I used soft but vibrant watercolours bleeding into each other with a muted slate blue/lilac background.

The abaya illustration was used in ads in Time Out Dubai, OK magazine and many more publications for announcing the launch party.

For the actual launch, we decided that it would be a great idea to paint the second illustration live at the venue since no one had seen it yet so it would be a nice surprise. After that, Choix would proceed to use both illustrations in their advertising campaign.

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the finished illustration

the finished illustration

The event was a lavish and sophisticated affair and the lucky guests were served an array of exquisite and unique dishes such as beef tenderloin and onion marmalade, comte cheese and baby spinach as well as camel milk panna cotta and saffron cake and dates – some very innovative, regionally inspired treats!!!

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Needless to say, there were plenty of their signature pastel macaroons around!

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I should know. I had some. They were marvelous.

The mood was further enhanced by a talented pianist playing in the background, which really made you feel like you were transported back to a deco style 1940’s lounge in New York.

Here’s some more photos of the event and of Choix.

Stunning view outside

Stunning view outside

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It truly was “une nuit magnifique!”

Bisous!!!!

Art Dubai 2014

Mark Twain once said “Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others.”

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Rather grim, but there is some truth in that quote. Many artists work their whole lives to get the recognition and exposure that their work deserves but SO many remain unsuccessful in this quest in spite of it all.

This is where fairs like Art Dubai come into the picture!

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With over 500 participating, it allows artists from all over the world (emerging and established) some well-earned time in the sun. (literally!!!)

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With a strong focus on the Middle East, artists from the region gain global exposure and therefore, so much awareness is created. Art Dubai has an extensive, well-rounded programme which is filled to the brim with numerous tours, forums, discussions and workshops while attracting many prestigious art collectors from all around the world.

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From competitions like the Abraaj Group Art Prize, to workshops like the Sheikha Manal little artist programme, there truly is something for EVERYONE to see!

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Now in it’s 8th year, the fair continues to flourish …

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For opening night, I decided to channel my inner Betty Draper and so I opted for this gorgeous emerald-green full skirt from a local boutique called Dee by Dalia. Her chic vintage pieces set my heart aflutter. Check her website out here –

http://www.deebydalia.com/

Although artistic, Art Dubai is certainly one of the chic events where you can really go really fun and eccentric with fashion.

As I loitered around outside, I spotted many well dressed ladies. They wafted around in their wide pleated trousers, quirky turbans, neon accessories, bright kaftans and oversized sunnies! I dug it!

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Image courtesy Savoir Flair Magazine

Image courtesy Savoir Flair Magazine

Now, I’m not one for planning. I immediately set about aimlessly traipsing through the grand halls, enjoying getting “lost” and immersed in the artwork.

There’s such a huge amount of galleries, workshops and activities going on at Art Dubai. For this specific post, I have decided to focus more on the galleries and briefly describe some pieces that really attracted me.

Without further ado, here’s my round-up!

At Green Art Gallery, Kamrooz Aram’s piece “Tempered composition with three points” has a hazy and dreamlike quality.

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He is known to constantly layer his work, and then he scrapes it off to re work it. This results in a distinguishable multi dimensional quality. He exposes faint tracings in certain areas of the canvas and has used a simplified, child like floral motif. This shows that the use of florals can be sophisticated and prove more than just an adornment.

This statue “ Flesh of the Shadow Spirits” is created by Kendell Geers from Galerie Rodolphe Janssen and it is made from resin. A conceptual artist from South Africa, his work often has heavy political elements, typically concerning civil rights.

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I did a double take when I saw these beautifully crafted knives by Zoulikha Bouabdellah at Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde. I found it really interesting how she has taken an instrument that usually has connotations of violence or aggression, and given them a new lease of life with her intricate, arabesque inspired shapes.

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:mentalKLINIK created this quirky piece cleverly called “French Kiss. Two forces are linked together in perfect symmetry, giving a romantic sense of personification.

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The Breeder – a gallery based in Athens, featured Zoi Gaitanidou’s very tactile pieces. She uses embroidery to create elaborate tapestries that combine primitive figures and abstract patterns. She is influenced by tribal art.

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Mumbai based gallery Chatterjee and Lal presented a solo booth by one of my favorite Pakistani artists, Rashid Rana.

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For these pieces, Rana has re interpreted famous paintings such as “The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus” by Peter Paul Rubens, and “The Oath of Horatii” by Jacques Louis David and has chopped them up into smaller fragments and scrambled them up – just like the surface of a Rubik’s cube.

He has selected these particular paintings specifically for their connotations on carnal violence, and perhaps misogynistic undertones which is something he feels he can resonate with regarding the political state of Pakistan/rise of islamic fundamentalism.

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It’s interesting how Imran Qureshi’s work deals with a similar theme too but he has an extremely different approach to it.

I find works by these two artists always seem to pull an emotional chord with me.

Another rather emotional piece is by Sydney based couple Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy. Entitled “T+85_red&blue_diptych”, it is part of a collection of pixel-art images of space shuttle explosions which are created from pieces of Lego.

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This piece is dedicated to highlight a certain shuttle that exploded. The use of material is interesting as the Lego is not only to depict the tragedy itself, but it also seemed fitting as one of the women who died on the shuttle explosion was a teacher, therefore the Lego reminds us of children and the loss of innocence.

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This was shown at Gallery Wendi Norris which is based in San Francisco.

There were a few artists at the fair with really strong environmental themes in their work.

Take this very narrative piece of art by Indonesian artist, Prilla Tania from dgallerie.

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It is made from cut paper of various types and upon close inspection, it actually tells a whole story about deforestation in Indonesia.

There’s a primal and primitive element about it that I like. It reminds me of ancient art – the way her artwork “talks” just like hieroglyphics or cave paintings would. Fascinating!

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Also focusing on the environment, Nnenna Okore’s installations are made from discarded yet reusable materials such as magazines, newspapers string and plastic bags.

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Okore’s works brings a focus on consumerism, excessive wastefulness. She is represented by Omenka gallery, Nigeria.

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I loved this beautiful glimmering golden sculpture by Elmgreen and Dragset, from Victoria Miro Gallery in London. It is made from 24 carat gold-plated bronze.

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Frank Bowling from Hales Gallery combines an emotive use of colour stain and sprayed motifs combined with textural elements.

Frank Bowling, Ashton's Plunge, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 302.5 x 165 cm

This artist, originally from Guyana is actually 80 years old!

There are also some tactile qualities as stitching is sometimes incorporated in his work as an homage to his mother, who was a seamstress.

Frank Bowling, Ponsonby Welch, Overlooking Fryish Maze, 2012, acrylic paint on canvas, 304.8 x 188 cm [lowres]

His paintings relate to Abstract expressionism, Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction.

Mark Dion’s curious dark room in InSitu Gallery, contains various glow in the dark items and encourages us to reflect age-old philosophical questions regarding spirituality, science and art.

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Plus…it’s pretty groovy.

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I know it was a SUPER long post, but this was honestly just scratching the surface.

Hopefully with more initiatives like Art Dubai, an abundance of geniuses will continue to be discovered.

They, too will get their chance to tell their stories to the world …

"Forever These Words Unsteadily Will Live" by Fred Eerdekens

“Forever These Words Unsteadily Will Live” by Fred Eerdekens

Design Days 2014

Art Dubai opening night is TOMORROW night.

Right now, I feel like one of those vintage toys you wind up with a key RIGHT before placing on the floor … literally RARING to go !!!

BUT having said that …there are so many OTHER interesting fairs and exhibitions to check out during Art Season, such as Art Nights, Sikka, Christie’s and of course Design Days Dubai. Since I’m rather greedy, I want to see it ALL…I can relate to Aerosmith’s song…I (really) DONT wanna miss a THING!!!

So I set off bright and early (ish) to investigate Design Days first, followed by a quick browse at Christies to see the watch exhibition.

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A heads up for newbies – Design Days Dubai is the leading fair in the Middle East and South Asia dedicated to collectible and limited edition furniture and design objects. The fair presents design from leading international designers and galleries alongside up and coming design from across the world.

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I started with The Carpenter’s Gallery, which is from Paris.

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This amazingly innovative lighting installation is made from REAL dandelions and the lightbulbs are inside…creating a beautiful fuzzy soft glow! I’ve taken a close up so you can see it clearly!

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The designers, Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijin have used a combination of dandelion seeds, phosphorus bronze, LEDs, perspex and concrete to create it.

Now, I need to talk a little bit about this clock called The Grandfather Clock by Maarten Baas as it’s unbelievable. At first glance, I just thought it was a rather plain ordinary clock but after a few minutes …what appeared like a MAN from INSIDE the clock came from out of nowhere …erased out the minute handle and drew a new one..right before my eyes!!! It was so trippy that I actually felt startled!! After all…this kind of behavior is NOT something one expects from a clock! I’m glad a have a photo ..because I sound insane when describing it. As if I’ve had too much of grandma’s cough medicine.

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The gallerist explained to me that this has been achieved with a video. The designer had filmed someone drawing the handles on from behind glass. The clock plays this video on loop as time goes on and apparently, the character rings a bell and does other things like has a cup of tea, too. I really love the way the designer has succeeded in animating the inanimate! Very creative!

Here are some other pieces by Carpenter!

"Chartres" Studio Job

“Chartres” Studio Job

"Monkey Business" Studio Job

“Monkey Business” Studio Job

Miracle Chips is an installation by Micheal Anastassiades which was presented by Carwan Gallery. The designer has achieved the impossible – making a heavy material such as marble appear paper thin and flexible. Anastassiades was inspired by red fortune telling cellophane fish you get at Christmas crackers, and wanted his pieces to retain the appearance of marble but appear to curl up and appear featherlight.

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Next Level Gallery in Paris, featured some stunning and unique limited edition light installations by Phileppe Malouin. I love the way the light appears to breaks and filter through the delicate brass maze creating scattered lighting effects.

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As well as this, I also loved this cleverly designed wall piece which can also be used to sit on. Designed by fashion and furniture designer Jose Levy, he created this set of 2 pieces after his visit to Kyoto where he got inspired by his oriental surroundings. He has used a material traditionally used as mats that are normally completely flat and has somehow moulded it into these statement sculptures.

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Creating imagery and visual effects through shadow and reflection, this installation was commissioned by Giles Miler Studio and presented by Capsule Arts. I love how the pieces spin and the optical illusion it creates. It constantly switches from exposing negative spaces to “closing up” into tighter compressed pieces.

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The next piece is from The Fabrik Lab, Hong Kong which is an installation by designer, Elaine Ng Yan Ling. She brings together textiles and electronics in a wonderfully creative way. Centered around biomimicry, she’s inspired by a certain resilient desert plant that constantly expands and changes according to the moisture in the air.

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Her organic and magical approach has been described as creating designs that move and grow like trees – but faster. It’s true, for it appeared as though her intricate wooden designs were morphing, curling and spinning before our eyes..literally coming alive. It is made from layers of smart veneer. I had the good fortune of speaking to the designer and she is so full of eloquence and passion. Here’s a photo of her in her “garden.”

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Like Ng Yan Ling, it seems that Paula Rodriguez from Nakkash gallery was ALSO inspired by biomimicry, when she created this chic nautilus shell-shaped storage and divider unit. I love the way it creates nooks for showing off your stuff as well as an artwork in itself. This sculptural piece is constructed with a wood frame and veneered in natural-finished bamboo.

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Another very patriotic and regionally inspired piece that caught my eye were these victory chairs designed by Omar Nakkesh. These quirky chairs incorporate the distinguishable salute invented by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

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There’s even an ascot “dressed” chair. Once again, adding animation to the inanimate and lending so much character!!

I would love to write more about ALL the furniture, but there is just TOO much to cover…so here are more photos of some other unmissable items at the fair, followed by some shots I took of some GORGEOUS jewelry from the Van Cleef and Arpel exhibition.

Enjoy!!!

Clear Edition Gallery

Clear Edition Gallery

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Art Factum Gallery

Art Factum Gallery

Art Factum Gallery

Art Factum Gallery

Tashkeel Gallery - rug made out of camel leather

Tashkeel Gallery – rug made out of camel leather

Carpenter Gallery

Carpenter Gallery

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PP Trees installation by Tom Price at Design Days Dubai! Made entirely from polypropylene pipes and cable ties

PP Trees installation by Tom Price at Design Days Dubai! Made entirely from polypropylene pipes and cable ties

Peter Pan Show – YAK Events

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There’s something about watching a musical live that makes me so feel so elated. The costumes, the lighting … the way everyone just spontaneously burst into a synchronised dance. (I wish life could be like that!!!)

I’m a huuuuge theatre buff so every time I go to London, I make it a point to see atleast one play. You name it I’ve seen it. Grease, Jersey Boys, Top Hat, Singing in the Rain, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver Twist, Sister Act… (and that’s just the tip of he iceberg!)

Regarding theatre/musicals, this is something I always felt Dubai lacks to a certain extent, and it’s a shame because when there IS a show on, it does so well over here and is frequently fully booked! I went to see Chicago years ago in Dubai and although it was good, personally I felt like it just didn’t do it for me. It did not have that spark .. that “je ne sais quoi” compared to the West End.

I had resigned myself to the idea that musicals in Dubai just are never going to be up to scratch … UNTIL I saw Peter Pan at Trade Center a couple of weeks ago. That show was a game changer for me.

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For starters, the special effects were INCREDIBLE and the show was visually stunning. Unlike traditional musical sets, this stage had a state of the art digitally projected backdrop that the actors would be against. This screen was constantly animated and in moments, it would transform from an atmospheric wintery London scene to pirate ship sailing choppy seas. As well as this, there were 3D elements to add even more realism, like a big grand chandelier, or a ship sailing across the sky, or a menacing 3D crocodile creeping from the corner.

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It was also very innovative how they gave the illusion of Peter Pan flying, using an I-Fly like apparatus and suspended invisible wires against a “starlit” stage. The actors were not only skilled at singing and dancing, but with their constant seemingly effortless flips, cartwheels and somersaults they proved to be incredibly agile acrobats too!

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Tinkerbell was portrayed very creatively using a mixture of glow lights and a couple of spontaneous cleverly aimed fireworks. Genius! I only wish I could have seen superstar Myriam Fares play the role, but she was only performing for one show. For those unfamiliar with her, she’s kind of like … the Lebanese equivalent of Taylor Swift.

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The music was very enjoyable, and the songs were all familiar as they were all world famous songs. Such a variety too – from Moulin Rouge’s “One Day I’ll Fly Away” to Rasmus’ “In the Shadows”. The actors all had superb voices. I was particularly impressed with Peter and Wendy’s duet, and Hook’s aria. He sung “Nessun Dorma” with such character. As far as villans go, I found him quite likeable.

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My favorite part of the play was the way they portrayed the mermaid – she was sooo MYTHICAL with her cascades of long waves and long sequin encrusted tail glimmering in the dark. Absolutely breathtaking costumes. Some of the BEST I’ve EVER seen.

Lastly, the “I believe in fairies” scene made the children feel like they were participating in the play and as a result they were completely engaged. I really liked how this scene made the audience interact, rather than just feel like spectators.

Peter Pan really was truly successful in bringing childlike magic back to Dubai. Best play of the year for sure!

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Official opening of Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments

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It’s no secret that I love art. I try to attend as many gallery openings, launches, auctions and exhibitions as I can here in Dubai.

Tough life, eh?! 😉

What I really love though, is the many uses and facets of art. I’m intrigued when it merges together with design and function because that is when it transforms into something much deeper than aesthetics – more than just a painting adorning a wall.

In short, I love when the beauty of art is used in more practical unconventional ways.

How cool IS this elevator?!

How cool IS this elevator?!

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When I found out about the concept of Noon art boutique, I was beyond fascinated. Located in Al Barsha, Noon Art Boutique virtually uses art in every nook and cranny of the hotel!

Some of these exquisite features include …… (deep breath so I can list them all!!!)

The enamel clocks in the lobby, copious wallpaper designs, ornate rugs, intricate engravings on the wood of the cabinets, etched designs on the frosted glass doors of the showers NOT forgetting the impressive assortment of paintings enhancing the hallways and rooms! (Whew!!! What an impressive list!)

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The hotel apartments boasts 45 beautifully appointed luxury suites arranged across 12 immaculately designed floors.

The interesting thing about this hotel is that it has been designed by three UAE artists who had each been given a certain number of floors to use as their very own blank canvases.

Although the rooms all look similar in terms of colour schemes and materials, if you look a bit closer you will notice that they vary a great deal in design. For instance – inspired by spirituality, Khalid Bin Slimane incorporates God’s name seamlessly into the design of his rooms.

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Ali Hassan opts for tasteful interlocked Arab calligraphy made from dark and light wood carved into the furniture such as headboads the tables and even the lights above!

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Finally, renowned Emirati artist, Dr Najat Makki uses figurative work – a famous trademark of her artistic style.

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All attendees were treated to live musical entertainment, canapés, refreshments, and three on-site artists – Anita Jane Scott, Fiona Mackenzie and Thaer Mahdi – who wowed those present with their live artistic creations. There was also a guided tour of the suites which started on the first floor of the building – and a showcase of impressive local art and culture.

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Feelin arty in my patterned trousers!

Feelin arty in my patterned trousers!

Now, I often hear common criticisms of this city from a few expats living here. We’ve all heard them. They drone “Dubai is so commercial. Dubai is so materialistic. There’s no soul.”

People like to repeat comments like this often in a mantra-like fashion.

Well, this impeccably designed hotel proves that times are changing and Noon Art Boutique is FAR from just another sell out hotel apartment, it’s indeed a cut above the rest. With its bespoke artistry, unique craftsmanship and deep attention to detail, it’s ANYTHING but commercial.

It’s class all the way!

Live drawing for Dune London event at Meydan Beach

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Shoes and the beach. My two most favorite things! Any event that combines these is good in my book. And that’s precisely what Apparel Group did on the 28th of Jan, when they hosted an exclusive launch event for Dune shoes London at the luxurious Meydan Beach in JBR. Just look at all those gorgeous shoes and handbags! Mon Dieu!!! C’est magnifique, n’est pas?

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I was there to do some live sketching of all the guests’ sophisticated and colourful outfits. The weather was glorious with the sunlight flooding the room through the large glass windows. Check out that splendid view of the beach!

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You’d think it would make sense to dress in something breezy and summery … but you know how I abhor being predictable! 🙂 Since I was feeling quite Mary Quant that day, I went for a Missoni-esque print minidress in mossy, rusted Autumn hues and some high-heeled boots to finish off that 60s leggy Twiggy vibe I was trying to channel!

Gettin Twiggy with it. Na-na-na-na-na-nana

Gettin Twiggy with it. Na-na-na-na-na-nana

Time was not my friend that day. I only had a couple of precious minutes to paint out each outfit and there were close to fifty guests in total! Fortunately though, I had the figures photocopied in advance which were bare and bald, so I could just concentrate on the outfits and hair on the day itself. Pretty organized eh?! Just like Neil Buchanan’s trademark phrase from Art Attack – “Here’s something I made earlier!”

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Surprisingly, it was not as stressful as I thought it would be. The weather and beachy air was so relaxing so it really put me in a great mood as I sketched away busily in the corner!

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Here are some happy customers!

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One lady had a cute idea of wanting an illustration with her baby. This is how it turned out!

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Apparel Group also wanted a souvenir of the whole team in a group illustration.

TA DAH!

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On a separate note, today is Valentine’s day! Now, SOME people complain that Valentine’s day is commercial. Riiiight. As if the rest of the holidays like Christmas and Easter are COMPLETELY commercial free, consumer free AND 100% authentic (?) hmm…*skeptical eyebrow raise*

This may be a very controversial statement to make but – In my opinion and in my experience… guys who complain about V-day are often the “Cheap Charlies” who are reluctant to splurge for their love ones!!! So, cmon fellas. Show your lady what you are made of!!!! Give into it.

As for those ladies who single … then it’s even MORE important to celebrate it! You can either choose to wallow in self-pity by watching Jerry Maguire’s “you complete me” scene for the umpteenth time with your cats and Ben and Jerrys, or you can round up your other single girls and drive to Jabel Hafeet for a spa weekend. As an empowered single girl myself, guess which option I will be doing? 😉

Single or taken, here’s wishing everyone a very blissful, happy and magical Valentine’s day!

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