Last Saturday (27th Nov.) saw us return from our four day trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Yes it was HOT and we were taking part in the Yas Island Show Weekends organised by Flash Entertainments & D’Events.
The evening headline for this weekend’s event was Nelly Furtado but we were taking part in the daytime/nightime activities known as ‘Leave Your Mark on Yas!’ this was an ‘urban’ street art event featuring break-dancing, rappers, graffiti artists, 3D pavement artists, chill-out zones and ourselves providing public participation pavement art workshops. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it!
For those who may not know (and we didn’t) Yas Island is a brand new development built especially for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two years ago…..a fantastical place dominated by the Grand Prix circuit. The place we were working in-fact was in a car park overshadowed by the main stand and used only once a year for the race!!!
So the idea behind these events is to animate the area throughout the rest of the year.
We were totally knocked out by this event….not least because we were staying in the luxury 5 star Crowne Plaza Hotel (6th floor) on Yas Island with spectacular views across the island and racing track. Also we had NO MONEY!!! We didn’t need it because all our meals and expenses were charged to our room and paid for by D’Events….this was a million miles away from our usual UK gigs staying in B&B our Travel Lodge somewhere.
Here we were treated like kings….we thought we’d died and gone to heaven…..for a few days anyhow 🙂
We couldn’t get over the GOLD PLATED Lifts in the hotel! No kidding….
Although this was my third time in the Emirates (twice in Dubai) it actually represents our first public street art workshop over here as UrbanCanvas. But in a way the Emirates and Dubai is where my journey into interactive street art began.
I spent 5 weeks at the Dubai Shopping Festival in 1997, the festival was only in its second year and I was employed to bring a bit of ‘Parisian Style’ street art to the event with demonstration pieces of grand masters like the Mona Lisa and scenes from the Sistine Chapel. Back in them days I did everything on paper and this event represented only my second year as a practicing pavement artist.
Anyhow to cut a long story short it was my last day in Dubai and I had loads of chalks and pastels that I didn’t want to take back to the UK due to travel weight so I decided to let the local kids have a go…..and one thing lead to another and before long I had a crowd of people chalking and creating art on the street…it was just magical and something that had never been seen before….remember this was back in the days before anybody had ever even heard of street art festivals…they just never happened! This was just something totally new, and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to devote my life to interactive street art.
Things have changed radically over 12 years….now pavement art is fast becoming a recognised and even ‘mainstream’ art form with the help of artists such as BANKSY and Julian Beaver. Back then we were pioneers and most people thought we were MAD to have even considered this form of art as ‘worthy’ even today a lot of people are snobby about it….preferring to masturbate themselves at the high alter of the so-called HIGH ARTS!
One of the great things I love about street art is its lack of pretentions….its 100% out there; there is no place to hide and no pedestals to stand upon. Your success or failure is due to nothing more than pure talent. You can’t kid people on the street…..it’s a place where everybody can spot a bullshitter!
On this gig we were working alongside Graffiti artist INKIE and his crew….for those who don’t know….INKIE is a contemporary of BANKSY’S ……he apparently went to the same art school in Bristol and was described by the Promoter as ‘BANKSY’S right hand man’ (whatever that means) He’s also worked with Bianca Jagger and other high profile celebrities.
Anyhow he seemed like a nice enough chap and was ‘made up’ to tell me about his night of lust in a ‘nightclub full of models’ naturally enough I congratulated him and went back to my room for a cup of tea with my own lovely ‘model’ Catherine x
So why an Octofish?
Well; have you ever heard the term “a fish out of water?”
All in all we did enjoy ourselves in Abu Dhabi and all our thanks must go to Contraband International from London and D’Events from Dubai for making it happen 🙂