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Filigree of three
by Muhammad Yusuf March 08, 2018
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GPP Photo Week (GPPPW), the longest running photography event in the region currently in its 14th edition, concluded recently at Concrete, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. The six-day event was filled with photography workshops, talks, exhibitions and art programming, covering a range of skills and techniques related to the medium. It saw the involvement of photographers and photography enthusiasts numbering over 8,200 people (last year’s record).

Visitors were invited to attend a variety of exhibitions by both emerging and established photographers such as Khalik Allah, Osborne Macharia and Jalal Sepehr.

It was a week that hosted over 105 activities, including 21 exhibitions and 38 free photography classes, throughout Alserkal Avenue and other parts of Dubai, including on-location shoots along the coast, in the desert, Satwa and Old Dubai, among others.

The workshops and seminars were presented by internationally acclaimed photographers such as Sara Lando, Hugh Kretschmer, RC Concepcion, Tanya Habjouqa, Maggie Steber, Kevin Mullins, Zach Arias and Nick Fancher. Many skills and techniques related to photography were explored.

Throughout the week, attendees were also given the opportunity to enjoy a variety of free activities, including Snap Sessions, Spotlight programming, kids activities, the ShootOut, and a full art programme presented by Cadillac.

Leading camera brands such as Canon, Sony, Nikon and Panasonic presented camera cleaning services, new products and special offers such as the unveiling of the new Panasonic LUMIX G9 and GH5S cameras.

A related event is ‘Beyond Here Is Nothing’, an exhibition by Laura El-Tantawy, currently being shown in Gulf Photo Plus space at the Avenue.

Born in England to Egyptian parents, El-Tantawy lived in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the US, before returning to the UK where she currently lives and works. Having spent her life moving between East and West, her work explores rootlessness and the constant search for belonging.

The exhibition presents itself in the form of ambiguous visuals, ominous shadows, and subtle textures. El-Tantawy’s haunting imagery confronts the viewer with their own feelings of not belonging, and also with its beauty.

She will be leading a talk about her experiences with self-publishing at the Fully Booked Art Book Fair in Alserkal Avenue on Mar. 19, and will be offering a guided tour of her exhibition in Gulf Photo Plus, also on Mar. 19.


On Feb 28, Sharjah Art Museum (SAM) opened an exhibition inspired by the childhood and early life of one of Sudan’s most influential and important artists, Salah Elmur. ‘Fragrances of the Forest and Photos’ is a collection of more than 70 artworks by him.

Viewers are led through a personal voyage of discovery, showing some of the artist’s experiences of growing up in Khartoum. The works show his exploration of the city’s streets and the surrounding countryside as a child – many of them now only memories.

The exhibition is divided into four sections: Kamal Studio, Forest, Perfumes and Various Stages, where the artist talks about how he was inspired to create the featured works.

Elmur was born in 1966 in Khartoum, Sudan, and lives and works there. His style can be defined as slightly random and abstract - but not to the point of incomprehensibility. “Realistic abstracts” could do justice to his oeuvre.

His use of colour favours bold tones, laid down by thick strokes, complemented with occasional shades of lighter hues. “The colours in my paintings are very strong because of the sun in my country and also because of the people there, who love to wear colourful clothes”, he says.

In Forest, he puts down scenes from Al Sunut Forest, a popular barbecue spot for the residents of Khartoum. His paintings show the wild beauty of the forest, which acts as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city for people and animals alike.

In Kamal Studio, he takes the audience to the photographic studio run by his father, Kamal al-Din Mohammed. The paintings are inspired by the people, noises and the many, many, photos that filled the studio in Khartoum’s busy Souq al-Sajaneh.

The final two sections, Perfumes and Various Stages, highlight Elmur’s skill as an artist and stand out as wonderful examples of life in the Khartoum in the closing stages of the last century.

The exhibition runs till June 2.


The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) has concluded the first edition of the Instagram Photo Contest for this year. It was titled ‘White’, with a total of five winners announced for the competition. It received submissions under the hashtag #HIPAContest_White and winners hailed from Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Oman and the Philippines, respectively.

Kuwaiti photographer Humoud Al Shayji @ alshayji recollected that he took his winning photograph in Hokkaido, Japan. Joey Reginaldo @sijoeyito from the Philippines said: “I am a resident of Dubai, and in my opinion, the O-14 tower in Business Bay is one of the most iconic and photogenic buildings in the city due to its cheese-like design. I had already seen other great photos of this building but wanted to show something different through my photography”. Other winners were Balqees Khalifa Al Khaifi, Oman, Isa Ebrahim, Bahrain, and Abdul Shukkur from India.

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