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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

UK royal wedding crowds boost UAE artist's show

London one-woman show benefits from Prince William and Kate Middleton's big day.
Noor Al Suwaidi pictured with her work.
Noor Al Suwaidi pictured with her work.

DUBAI // An Emirati artist staging a one-woman show in London has received a boost from the flood of visitors arriving at the UK capital in the run-up to Friday's royal wedding.

Noor al Suwaidi's exhibition "Like Coral, I Create Clouds" is on display at Mayfair's Gallery in Cork Street at a time when the world's gaze is fixed firmly on London.

The fact the show is taking place just as "William and Kate mania" reaches its climax was not planned, but has had unexpected benefits.

"It's great that there are so many people coming into town and they're getting to see the show because they're walking around this area," said al Suwaidi, speaking from London.

"It's nice because the flags are all up and people are really happy, and I'm wondering where I'm going to watch the wedding when I get home to Abu Dhabi."

The show consists of 16 colourful acrylic-on-canvas paintings and eight charcoal works on paper.

They have been given the best possible platform as Cork Street is the gallery-lined heartland of London's commercial art trade and attracts some of the world's most discerning collectors.

Al Suwaidi's work has previously appeared in group shows in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and London, but this is the first time she has gone solo.

Her first glimpse of a gallery filled with her work was overwhelming. "The first time I walked in and everything was on the walls it felt so surreal, it was a shock - it was as if it was an out-body experience."

Al Suwaidi, who is flying back to Abu Dhabi today, added: "Now the pieces look like they have lived there forever and its kind of weird that I'm going to leave them."

She described her works as abstract portraiture.

"One of the exciting parts for me was that I've had really amazing feedback about the works on paper.

"I wasn't really expecting that; people usually get really attracted to the colours of the paintings, but the works on paper are all black and white - greyscale, which shows there is also an attraction to the style that I'm working in."

The title of the show was inspired by scientific research that showed that when large masses of coral were exposed to too much sunlight they released a chemical that rose through the atmosphere and assisted the formation of clouds, providing the reefs with shade.

Juan Carlos Farah, the show's curator, said: "When we were talking about Noor's paintings we began describing them as clouds of colour."

The works have proved popular, with four paintings and six drawings already sold. The paintings are priced between £2,000 (Dh12,000) and £8,000, and the drawings cost £500 each.

But Al Suwaidi, 29, said: "When I started to think about this exhibition, the idea of just exhibiting my work and exposing it to an audience in London was the priority, rather than the sales side."

The show continues until Saturday.

csimpson@thenational.ae