x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 February 2018

Jo Kearney’s images of Dubai dhows are coloured by its rich history

Photographer Jo Kearney says it's "a race against time" to capture old Dubai.

Several of Jo Kearney's photos feature close-up details of old dhows from Dubai Creek. Lee Hoagland / The National
Several of Jo Kearney's photos feature close-up details of old dhows from Dubai Creek. Lee Hoagland / The National

Peeling paint, old ropes, rusting nails and tide marks – these are all characteristics of the time-worn dhows that dock daily at Dubai’s Creekside. The vessels, which bring in wares from far flung shores such as Iran, Somalia and Pakistan, are part of the fabric of old Dubai and have been the subject of many artistic projects over the years.

But the most recent, a selection of close-up photographs that went on display in The Majlis Gallery at the weekend called In the Beauty of Imperfection, exposes the flaws that make the boats so appealing.

Photographer Jo Kearney, who is from the United Kingdom, says she was attracted to the soul of the area.

“My perception, when I first came to Dubai, was that it was a modern and glitzy city with not much in terms of historic culture. But if you spend some time and look, you will find that it is not really like that. There is a strong sense of old Arabia, especially down in the Creek area.”

This is Kearney’s second exhibition in Dubai and her first in the heart of the old town.

“I was thrilled when the gallery agreed to show my work,” she says. “It is an ideal location,” said Kearney, who is also a video journalist with the Associated Press, has covered many major global events over the past 20 years.

“When I’m working with the agency in Dubai, the kinds of stories I cover are usually about the glamorous side of life and it is something of a stereotype. However, the sad thing is that it is getting harder to find the old Dubai – even the old camel track is being modernised now. It is a race against time to get these photographs.”

In the Beauty of Imperfection runs until June 29 at The Majlis Gallery, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Dubai. For more information, visit www.themajlisgallery.com

aseaman@thenational.ae