Arabs Wow London: Middle Eastern Art Show Wins Admiration, Support

Sunset Over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, by Pippa Thew.

Sunset Over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, by Pippa Thew.

Middle Eastern influences were the binding element in the work of four artists displayed at the Janet Rady Fine Art exhibition held at the Arab British Chamber of Commerce in London last week.
Rady is a specialist in contemporary art from the Middle East and has 30 years of experience in the international market. She worked on the Art Bahrain Across Borders project (ArtBAB) and is the curator of the “I AM” touring exhibition of 31 women artists from the Middle East, currently on show at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington.

Dream of a Talismanic Shirt – Elisabeth Bolza

One of the artists showcased at the event on Oct. 12, whose work also features in “I AM,” was the well-established Bahraini artist Mariam Fakhro.
Rady gave Arab News insight into her work.
“Fakhro is very attached to the heritage of her Bahraini background. She is painting traditional houses, which Bahrain is fortunate enough to still have in existence. She talks about how the home is the heartland. For her, it represents her family, her homeland, her background and her security. Her work can be understood by everyone.”
Artist Vaseem Mohammed, who was present at the exhibition, showed off some wonderful examples of his work, including a piece entitled “The Sea (Horizon).” The piece features an inscription reading: “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” At the center of the work lies a beautiful seam of gold, which seems to be suspended between the sea and the sky. When asked about the work, Mohammed explained that it was his tribute to the children who were killed in 2014 when an Israeli missile exploded on a beach in Gaza where they were playing. He said the gold represents their souls ascending to heaven.

Sunset Over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Pippa Thew

Visual artist Abu Jafar said he appreciated the beautiful soft shades of blue, which he believes conveys the particular color of the sky near the sea in the Middle East — a color that he says is different to blue skies in French or British paintings.
“The artist has succeeded in creating a poem with this piece,” he said.
Another piece by Mohammed that attracted a lot of attention was entitled “The Pinnacle (Moon Splits),” painted in 2017.
Art enthusiast Marie-Aimee Fattouche of Egyptian-Lebanese heritage gave her opinion on the piece.
“For me, what I like about this piece is that the scene looks familiar. I have a sense of home while looking at it. It reminds me of a night stroll… in Morocco or Egypt. This gives a sense of the light that shines at night when you walk through the deserted streets — the time between the end of the busy nightlife period and just before the city awakens again.”

A piece by Bahraini artist Mariam Fakhro.

Speaking about his work, Mohammed said: “My paintings share an expression of isolation while representing a global community. This is an expression of my own feelings of isolation among the Western and Islamic communities.
“I have two distinct styles of which one uses calligraphy at the heart of the piece, juxtaposed on top of modernist, abstract style work. I would describe the calligraphy as a representation of Islam’s stability and presence in an ever-changing world.
“I also draw from my childhood experience of living in the East End of London in the 1970s. That’s what inspires me; I liked dilapidation, paint peeling off and things like that. In my parents’ house, which was more than 100 years old, I used to peel off the wallpaper and there were decades of wallpaper underneath. Subconsciously, I started using that in my work.”
Artist Pippa Thew, who was born in Kenya and now lives in Devon in the UK, has strong connections with the Middle East. She described her first introduction to the Gulf region in a conversation with Arab News.
“My connection with the Middle East started when I had a solo exhibition in Abu Dhabi. I was very fortunate as I was invited out to the royal stables by a granddaughter of the President of the UAE Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
“She invited me to see her racing horses and a stallion and I began to paint the horses. I was also very fortunate to become very good friends with a lot of Emirati people. I do a lot of portraits of my clients and their families, which is something I love to do.
“I love the Middle East, its culture and its people. I think it is a beautiful and fascinating place,” she said.

The Sea (Horizon) –  Vaseem Mohammed

Thew’s paintings on show included “Sultan and Arabian Stallion Fayed” and “Sunset over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.”
“We were coming back on a yacht and it was a beautiful September evening and very hot. The light was catching across the mosque and I just had to paint it,” she said.
Also featured in the exhibition was the artist Elisabeth Bolza, who has, for many years, studied Islamic arts and civilization. Since 2014, she has spent extended periods of time in Saudi Arabia studying its heritage and that of other countries in the region.
She was nominated for the Jameel Prize 2017 and is currently preparing a major exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum due to open on Jan. 20, 2018.
Her work “Dream of a Talismanic Shirt, 2010” was greatly admired by exhibition visitor and video producer Khalil Itani. His company, Visual Story, has covered many major Middle East art exhibitions and independent artist shows. He has a keen eye, developed over many years of training his lens on a wide range of art works.
Commenting on the piece, he said: “The balance of colors is wonderful and this represents mixed media creativity at its best. The combination of colors is subtle and I like the calligraphy — I like the layers and Islamic-Arabian influence in it.”
Rady was asked about the criteria she uses when selecting work for exhibitions, to which she replied: “First and foremost, I look at the art. Which country the artists come from is not relevant. When I am curating an exhibition, I am intent solely on showing superb artists.”

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Star Wars VIII Director is Afraid You’ll See the Trailer (But He Also Wants You to See It)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson warned a fan on Twitter Sunday about viewing the film’s upcoming trailer due to spoilers.

“I a (sic) legitimately torn. If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it. But it’s gooooood…..,” Johnson wrote in response to a fan asking how the trailer relates to comments he made in August about avoiding all marketing for The Last Jedi.

The trailer will be released during halftime of ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Chicago Bears. After the trailer is aired, tickets for the sequel to The Force Awakens will then go on sale.

In September, Star Wars star Mark Hamill teased that the clip would be shown during the game. Notably, a new trailer for The Force Awakens was released during an October airing of Monday Night Football in 2015.

The first trailer for The Last Jedi was released in April during Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. The clip featured Rey (Daisy Ridley) training with Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and droid BB-8 were also shown along with an epic space battle.

The Last Jedi will release in theaters on Dec. 15.

Zayn Malik is Feeling Respected

Zayn Malik, Mr. Respected. (Kathy Hutchins /

Zayn Malik, Mr. Respected. (Kathy Hutchins /

Zayn Malik feels people have a new found “respect” for him after he opened up about his anxiety struggles.

The “Pillowtalk” hitmaker has publicly battled with anxiety over the recent months and he believes talking about the issue has helped others grow a mutual respect for him and his feelings.

He said: “My fans are always supportive of anything I did. They’re amazing people and they’re always behind me. But the crazy thing for me was, the thing people that I didn’t expect to speak to me about that spoke to me about it, random people, like older people that had read the book, and they were like ‘I really respect you speaking about that, it takes a lot of strength and a lot of confidence in yourself to be able to just be like ‘this is what it is, this is how it was, this is how I’m feeling,’ and that was really cool to get that reaction because I didn’t necessarily do it for that reason. I just did it because I felt like I needed to do it. So when you get a nice reaction in return it’s like a bonus, it’s a cool feeling.”

And the 24-year-old singer is glad his admission has had a “positive impact” and allowed others to see where his feelings came from.

He added to Us Weekly magazine: “I feel like it was only a positive impact on everything that happened after it and people now have a better perspective on where I was coming from at the time and just an understanding that it wasn’t coming from necessarily being ungrateful, shall we say, or not aware of the opportunities that were in front of me, it was just me struggling with being able to actually be there.

“I’m definitely glad I got that off my chest, as anybody is when you feel like you’re keeping something from someone you have to speak about it and clear up the air.”

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Emilia Clarke Goes Full Khaleesi

Emilia Clarke, Mother of Dragons and dork. (Instagram / Emilia_Clarke)

Emilia Clarke, Mother of Dragons and dork. (Instagram / Emilia_Clarke)

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British actress Emilia Clarke has dyed her naturally brown hair blonde.

“AAAAHHHHHHH SHHHHIIIII****** I done did it,” the Game of Thrones icon posted on Instagram Tuesday, alongside a photo of her with wet, light-colored hair and sitting in a salon chair.

“Mother of dragons meet Emilia. Emilia meet mother of dragons. If you squint just so you might never know. All hail to the magnificence of @kevalexanderhair and @candicebanks74 the genius creators of ‘KHALEESI WIG’ (and not forgetting all the hair on game of thrones for 8 glorious years) for at long last making this magical moment a reality. #khaleesikicksoff #gameofthrones #cominghomeneverfeltsogood”

Clarke has played Queen Daenerys Targaryen on the HBO fantasy drama for seven seasons. The upcoming, eighth season will be the show’s last.

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George Clooney is a Very Happy Man

George and Amal. (Maginfoto /

George and Amal. (Maginfoto /

George Clooney “couldn’t be more in love”.

The 56-year-old actor and wife Amal, 39, recently welcomed twins Alexander and Ella and George said he has never been happier in his life.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, he said: “I couldn’t be more in love and more happy with my family. I’m 56, which is old to be doing this and I didn’t really think it was going to happen in my life. So it’s all icing on the cake.

“I thought that my life was going to be focused on my career. Then I have this incredible relationship and then all of a sudden we have these two knuckleheads who make me laugh every day.”

And while Amal and the twins remained at their Los Angeles home while George recently visited Canada to promote his new movie Suburbicon at the Toronto International Film Festival, the star admitted he couldn’t wait to get home.

He said: “This is the first time I’ve been away from them since they were born and I wish I was with them. My wife sends me pictures of them and I think, ‘God I wish I was with my kids’. I’m excited to get home. It’s nice to feel this way.”

And George went on to praise Amal for being a fantastic mother.

He said: “I wasn’t completely unaware of what life would be like with children. All my friends have kids and I am godfather to about 20.

“The surprise for me was how much more complicated twins are than one. It’s not like twice as much work, it’s more than that. It changes everything and you don’t sleep.

“So I have such admiration for my wife, who is getting about two hours of sleep [in] intervals a night. She is up breastfeeding these two knuckleheads – all they want to do is eat and I don’t understand what is going on.

“I have two children that don’t even care that I exist right now. I have nothing to give them except a bottle every once in a while, and they are happy. But, other than that, it’s all Amal right now.”

Is Adele the New Nancy in the “Oliver!” Remake?

Adele will do anything (anything?) anything for you! (VALERIE MACON / AFP)

Adele will do anything (anything?) anything for you! (VALERIE MACON / AFP)

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Adele has reportedly held talks over playing Nancy in a new film of the musical Oliver!.

The Grammy Award-winning star could be set to make the switch to Hollywood, with movie bosses having approached Adele about playing one of the central characters from Charles Dickens’ iconic novel, which was turned into a film in 1968.

A source close to the singer, who has four-year-old son Angelo with her husband Simon Konecki, told The Sun newspaper: “It would be a major part for her and she’s seriously considering it.

“She’s talked about Angelo being her number one priority and she sees this as a role that he could appreciate too. It would be a new challenge for her but one she would definitely be up for.”

Adele has never before appeared in a movie, but the chances of her making the switch into the film business are thought to have increased after hinting in June she no longer wished to tour.

The 29-year-old star was forced to cancel her planned shows at Wembley Stadium on July 1 and July 2 after damaging her vocal cords.

And Adele revealed the news to her fans in an emotional social media post.

At the time, she wrote: “To say I’m heartbroken would be a complete understatement. I’m already maxed out on steroids and aids for my voice.

“I’ve considered doing Saturday night’s show but it’s highly unlikely I’d even make it through the set and I simply can’t crumble in front of you all and walk out on you all in that way.

“I’m so desperate to do them that I’ve even considered miming, just to be in front of you and be with you. But I’ve never done it and I cannot in a million years do that to you. It wouldn’t be the real me up there.”

However, it now appears she could turn her attentions towards Hollywood, with Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Working Title Films, who helped make Les Miserables in 2012, set to produce the remake of Oliver!.

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Potterheads Gather to Say Goodbye to Harry Potter’s Kids

Decidedly, not the best scene in the series. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Decidedly, not the best scene in the series. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

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Hundreds of Harry Potterfans gathered at King’s Cross station in London, England, in honor of the final scene of the book series.

Author J.K. Rowling shared a tweet reminding fans that Friday was the day Harry Potter’s son left to attend wizarding school at Hogwarts in the finale of the series’ seventh and final book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

“Today’s the day Albus Severus Potter boards the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross for the first time,” she wrote alongside the hashtag “#19yearslater.”

Rowling’s Pottermore website shared a photo of a large group of fans from around the world dressed in black wizard’s robes and scarves representing the fictional schools four houses, as they gathered at Kings Cross to celebrate the end of the series.

“To those with us at King’s Cross, and those joining us from all over the world, we wish you a safe and happy journey,” the site’s Twitter page wrote.

The crowd counted down to 11 a.m. local time, when Potter’s son train was scheduled to leave the station, before sharing in a round of applause.

A special performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which takes place 19 years after the original series, was also held in celebration of the day depicted in the book’s final scene.

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