New artists at the Fairmont in Abu Dhabi

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel brings together four diverse local artists

New artists at the Fairmont in Abu Dhabi
New artists at the Fairmont in Abu Dhabi Image #2

If you’ve walked into the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel recently, you may have noticed an interesting collection of art pieces on display near The Chocolate Gallery. Adorning the walls of the long corridor at this very chic hotel are some intricate and colourful art, all made by four creative minds residing in Abu Dhabi. The New Directions exhibition brings together the artistic talents of Emily Gordon, Andrew Field, Julia Ibbini and Janine Ibbini.

Emily Gordon is a well known name amongst avid, knowledgeable art lovers in the UAE. Having lived in the region for over 25 years, her fascination with certain architectural aspects of Arabian and Byzantine cultures, particularly Arabic doors, have always caught the eye of private and corporate buyers. Although Emily has been producing work for many years, she tells us, ‘Tastes have certainly been changing. A lot more people are open to abstract and experimental work, as opposed to a few years back, and there are more people buying this kind of art now.’

Taking us on a private tour of this exhibition, it’s clear that her bubbly and vivacious character seeps into her work. Her artworks are easy to spot; they are beautiful large frames, made with layers of material and bright colours. Her use of Arabic doors is iconic, although varied in each work. Amid Emily’s pieces are some large works made of tiny beads, pinned onto coloured paper, and connected with string. These creations are painstakingly put together by Julia Ibbini who grew up in Abu Dhabi and has been working as a professional artist for ten years. Alongside these are some more large artworks, made of bright and ornate fabrics. These are the works of Julia’s mother; Janine Ibbini. The details of each is so captivating, it’s easy to lose your sense of time as you marvel at the layers of material that went into each artwork. Obviously, creativity and patience must be genetic in the Ibbini family.

Andrew Field’s art consists of paintings which look very familiar. Most of his works displayed are oil painting renditions of Saadiyat and Yas Island beaches. Using very soft colours, each painting is a serene moment of sand meeting the sea, which then merges with a distant horizon. If you ever drive by these destinations, you might notice a figure crouched down in the sand, with an easel, canvas and some paint, immortalising the scenery with each brush stroke. This person is Andrew, who spends a lot of his free time painting the scenes at the coasts of the islands.

Strolling further down the corridor, you will notice some very intricately designed books on display. This exhibition features artist books, which is the first time this has appeared in Abu Dhabi. Each artist sculpts a book on whatever they choose and some of the results are spectacular. One in particular stands with its middle hollowed out. Out of the missing pages, faces of deceased celebrities, such as Elvis Presley, peek out. This particular book was done by Julia Ibbini. ‘It took me a whole month to do one book,’ Julia tells us.

We asked some of the artists if they ever get attached to their works. Emily laughs a quick, ‘No’, while Julia immediately adopts a sad expression. She tells us about a particular piece that she loved, using light film, which she wanted to keep for herself. ‘I get attached to all my work,’ says the soft-spoken artist. As a textile artist, each of Julia’s pieces takes weeks or even months to complete. Spending so much time on one project it invariably works its way into her heart.

The artists had nothing but high praise for the Fairmont administration and staff. Emily tells us, ‘They have been so supportive and so professional. When we sell a piece, the joy on their face is as though
they have sold a piece themselves.

We are really lucky to have such a great venue to feature our works.’

The art pieces range in price from Dhs2,000 up to Dhs20,000. If the idea of purchasing some beautiful and original art is not enough to have you fish out the cheque book, then do bear in mind that a percentage
of the proceeds go to the Special Needs Centre.
The exhibition runs until January 5, 2013 at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel (02 654 3333). For more information email More information on the featured artists can be found on their websites: Emily Gordon (, Julia Ibbini (, Andrew Field (, Janine Ibbini (

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