Tuesday, 27 April 2010

OMG It's Almost May ..

Have just realised that it's almost May and I have done precisely 6 blog posts for the entire year so far. That's an appalling average of 1.2 per month. Granted, I haven't had a life since I left the UAE, BUT....   that has just changed. I have now acquired an almost proper job!  What's more it's a writing job that involves a lot of things that I either a) know about or b) love. In relation to the first category it's the Middle East, and in relation to the second it has art, politics and history.

Given the cultural .. dare I say it... renaissance ... in this region over the past 10-15 years, there is a now an urge to start archiving. The project I have been asked to do is essentially an archive project about the Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem.  As a consequence I just came back from 2 weeks in Jerusalem doing research and interviews and going through lots of lovely dusty old boxes.

The trip was supposed to be 10 days but when nature strikes back, there's not a lot you can do so thanks to the delightful volcano in Iceland, I got stranded in Jerusalem for an extra 5 days. This was fine because I have a lot of friends there and as usual the social schedule was harder to deal with than the work. It's not just the friends to see but all the family members of the friends as well.

Anyway, the first stage of the project is now well under way and is here if anyone's interested:

Al-Ma'mal Retrospective 

Once this has been brought up to the present (and funding permitting) the material will be expanded and turned into a book. 

Bizarrely this has coincided with several offers of gainful employment coming spouse's way too, so seems like its back to the life again yo... .. er... to quote Eminem. It also means we can replace a few of those garden plants that sadly didn't make it through the last two years ...... I might even buy a bird table....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

What i really missed..

Now that spring is well and truly upon us I am discovering that what I really missed in the UAE was getting my hands dirty. Yesterday's marathon stint in the neglected back garden left me with dirt up to the elbows and a potent mix of crushed slug, worm and centipede pieces under my fingernails. Weeding and pulling up the dead stuff inevitably raises pieces of broken Victorian glass or china and there are always some new plants that have been blown in from elsewhere. We also discovered that the fox who spends most sunny mornings asleep in our neighbour's garden, actually lives behind our fence.

Despite compulsive itinerancy resulting in various stages upon which to play the global village idiot, my basic Britishness is confirmed.whenever I commune with my back garden The springtime delight of looking out every morning to see what new bud or blossom or bird or insect has appeared, never fades with time and this spring there was the added excitement of the compost. After two years of festering untouched, what we pulled out of the compost bin was so rich and lovely I could only feel deeply sorry that I wasn't a plant.

Of course this doesn't mean that I didn't look at all the coverage of Art Dubai but I have to say I was a bit disappointed. As always, the majoarity consisted of the hagiographic delights of the local press, with a smattering of largely usual international suspects. Sharjah seems to have upped its game generating an impressive amount of column inches for the new Al Maraya Foundation and Barjeel Art Collectiion but I couldn't find any new writers or new points of view. The most disappointing thing was the almost zero coverage of Al Bastakiya Art Fair. I did get a few live texts from friends visiting Art Dubai saying 'too much ****ing calligraphy' and 'don't think the Saudis have been this hot since Osama'...... which is arguably not funny, but it made me laugh!