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38 artists from across globe join hands to raise funds for fighting blindness
By Mariecar Jara-Puyod April 26, 2013
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Dubai: A quotation from American children’s book author-illustrator Lisa Brown on blindness goes: “It is a disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from blurred vision, blindness, numbness and tingling, paralysis to cognitive issues. It is not a fatal disease but it is devastating.”

That devastation will hopefully go downhill faster than usual as 38 artists from various parts of the globe and the UAE have joined forces to raise more funds for the third time through the charity art auction Art4Sight scheduled on Thursday evening at the Zabeel Ladies Club in Dubai.

Viewing of the donated artworks -paintings, photographs, wall decors and sculptures - began on Wednesday evening led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and his son, Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Culture and Art Authority chairman.

A project of the Noor Dubai Foundation (NDF), which literally means “Light of Dubai,” is seen to grow immensely in the next five years with increasing participation by artists from more countries.

Dubai Health Authority (DHA) director general Eng. Essa Al Maidoor described the initiative as significant because it continues to give light to more people in more countries through the help of an increasing number of generous artists worldwide.

NDF Chief Executive Officer and DHA-Ophthalmology Department Consultant Dr Manal Omran Taryam expressed gratitude to the 38 artists, some of whom had participated in the 2011 and 2012 editions.

“They cannot imagine being without the sense of sight,” she said in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday.

The Gulf Today took the opportunity to talk with a few of these artists who were honoured by being invited by the NDF to participate for a worthy cause.

Amina Al Abassi is from Manama, Bahrain whose “The Arabian Dagger” is of mixed media wherein the acrylic and oil paints dominated the 110cm x 95cm canvas.

Yet, there is more to it apart from the embellishments of Swarovski ruby crystals that became the focal point of the piece of art accomplished in 2012. The acrylic and oil paints were also applied the way henna is on the ladies’ extremities to artistically visualise calligraphy.

The result is tactile art when one lightly touches the painting, and comes to know how the blind read through Braille.

“That is the beauty I want to project in this painting. That even the blind would appreciate it without having to look at it because of how the calligraphy was made,” she said.

Mark Pilkington has been a Middle East resident for the past 15 years, 12 years of which he has been living in the UAE.

The photography professor at the American University of Sharjah said his students would often comment on how difficult it was to be in the dark and unable to see light when they got the hands-on training inside the darkroom facility.

“Photography means to draw with light. It is related to having good eyesight and I am deeply honoured to be part of this charity auction again,” said the Briton, whose 86.5cm x 33cm “Sea Splash” is a product of the combination of two photographs to fashion a coastline landscape wherein the cycle of life is depicted through the circular motion of the ocean spray.

Pilkington added: “The Sea Splash explores the space between longing and belonging.”

Of German and Egyptian parentage, Mona Fares, 27, has been a Dubai resident for the past 25 years.

A member of a group of artists whose hub is located at the heritage site of Al Bastakiya, her 120 cm x 160cm “Line After Line” is her a multi-coloured interpretation of the changing landscape of her adopted country in acrylic, spray paint and ink.

Emirati Najjat Makki has been expressing herself through painting for over 20 years.

The doctorate degree holder in art from the Art College in Cairo, Egypt said her 80cm x 100cm “Curtain of Light” in the tints and tones of blue and green is the “feelgood factor" one has when he opens the window each morning and delights in everything he sees.

The countries in which the NDF has done charity work since it was conceptualised by Sheikh Mohammed in 2008 include Pakistan,Yemen, Togo, Ethiopia and Bangladesh where World Health Organisation data show exponential rates of blindness and other vision impairments but only a few practising qualified ophthalmologists.

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