Angelika Hamilton art in Abu Dhabi

Creative expat on inspiration and Abu Dhabi’s art community

Angelika Hamilton art in Abu Dhabi

German-born Angelika Hamilton arrived in Abu Dhabi about five years ago with her family. A social anthropologist by trade, human creativity has always fascinated Hamilton, who likes to carry a sketchbook with her to note down impressions and designs of things she comes across.

Her many travels and experiences have shaped her into, as she says, “an experimental artist”.

“My style has evolved through long trials and experimentation with materials. I never stop changing techniques and they keep on evolving with each image,” she adds. The techniques she experiments with aren’t restricted to her paintings, Hamilton is also a passionate photographer.

The inspiration that fuels her is everyday life. “I try to see the beauty in what is around me... it can be a set of reflections in the skyscrapers, the shadow of a plant against a wall, the gesture of a hand, the light playing on garment folds.”

Finding that spark when you least expect it is exciting for a creative person, but has its tricky moments. She jokes that often when they’re driving around as a family, she will suddenly scream to stop the car because she may have spotted something. “And then they have to wait while I set up an impromptu photo-shoot.”

Being constantly vigilant and learning to be aware of how you see what is in front of you, and not just what is clearly visible, is something Hamilton was taught as part of her degree. And that has stuck with her since. “Your frame of mind is important when you are living abroad and meeting new cultures. Your view on new experiences is subjective and coloured by your own parameters,” she says.

Something that has captured her imagination while living here is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

“Each time I am passing it in the car, it is a challenge to keep my eyes on the road. I keep thinking, ‘Oh, it would be great to have a print from this angle… and from this one… and…’. So if you see a car swerving close to it, it might be me. Sorry!”

The art community in Abu Dhabi is tight-knit. Exhibitions like Honalfan Summer Art Festival bring multi-disciplined artists together. Interacting with her peers is something Hamilton enjoys greatly. “The openness of the community to newcomers is very unique to Abu Dhabi and everyone benefits from the interactions. It makes you more aware of what you are and challenges you to incorporate new ideas.”

And as is similar with any piece of art, Hamilton would like her works to be a permanent reminder of her time here. “Something that raises questions from friends back home who see the piece, which then encourages you share your experience out here in Abu Dhabi.”

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