An exhibition of art, marquetry, sculpture, furniture and photography will open at the Delma Corner, Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation later today. The event, which exhibits the work of four friends with a common interest and continues until May 25, ...

By George Ramsey (Contributor)

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Published: Sat 14 May 2005, 12:55 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:21 PM

has been organised by the Hemisphere Design Studio & Gallery and entitled 'Made in Abu-Dhabi'.

Ruth, the gallery's proprietor, said, "Our aim is to encourage and promote artists and craftspeople who live and work in the Emirates."

City Times sneaked in to know what was cooking inside the walls of Delma Corner and what the gallery's visitors can expect over the next ten days. Fabrizio Saiu, one of the four artists, who specialises in marquetry and whose work will be displayed, shed some light on the art of which, very little is known.

What exactly is 'Marquetry'? It sounds a bit like going shopping.

(Chuckles!). Marquetry, my friend, is the art and craft of producing pictures and decorative designs by the skilful use of the grain, figure and colour of thin veneers of wood and other materials. It is a 400-year-old technique that was initially used in ancient churches by craftsmen and subsequently has been applied to develop various items of furniture and in restoration techniques on antiques, etc. It is hugely popular in Germany, Holland, France and England.

How did you get associated with this art form? What are your achievements and goals in the field?

I got hooked onto marquetry during a brief stint in Germany where I specialised in the restoration of historical buildings. It was a skill developed, by me, at the Holzmanufaktur Company in conjunction with the Fine Art Council of Baden Wurtenburg. It involved the use of my formal education in technical drawing (studied in my hometown, Milan) besides a sound textbook and practical knowledge of the intricacies of the art of marquetry. We won many awards as a unit while we were there. My aim and goal is to use my skills to discover new designs and challenge myself to develop works of art that are not only beautiful but have 'good taste'. I use this to create pieces of custom furniture and objects that can be used in day to day life to enrich one's quality of life.

What does marquetry have in common with sculpting and the other arts? What brings you guys together under one roof?

We hail from different parts of the world. I am Italian. Two of the others are Canadian and one is from the UK. The Hemisphere gallery is probably the only place in the capital where like-minded artists can meet and further their art forms and this is where we all met initially.

More than art, it is the desire to create something new and the passion to do something different and exciting, that binds us together. Marquetry is very different from sculpting. What we do share in common though is our love for the medium — wood. But for Richard (who is a photographer), the rest of us have conjured up works of art on wood! In addition to marquetry, I am exhibiting my first paintings in oil at this exhibition. The paintings are based on the Abu Dhabi skyline.

Would it be too much to expect you to give us a brief profile of your other colleagues at the exhibition?

Of course not! It would be my pleasure. There are three others — Michael Flook, Gerard Balp and Richard Singer.

Michael is a sculptor. He was born in Bristol, England, where he gained an appreciation of history and craftsmanship. Moving to the colonies at thirteen brought him into contact with the splendour of the Canadian wilderness. Michael's interest in history has taken him to many ancient sites around the world from the jungles of Central America and the Mayan ruins at Teikal to Sigiriya in Sri Lanka and the Angkor Watt temple complex in Cambodia. His love of nature and the more remote places on the planet give his sculptures a timeless feel of familiarity. His carvings range from small walnut sized Netsuke to pieces weighing several tones! Choosing to utilise wood as the prime material, for its warm natural qualities, Michael also sculpts in stone, metal, fibreglass, bone and leather.

Gerard works on driftwood. Although he originally trained as a furniture restorer and antiques dealer, he has always had a taste for the more unusual. Most of his working life has been spent restoring antiques and creating bespoke kitchens and pastiches of antiques, which have been praised as 'distinctive' and 'unique' by Elle Decoration and Homes and Gardens Magazine. Some of his more unusual items have found homes with people as diverse as the King of Belgium's son, Philippe Leopold Louis Marie, Duke of Brabant and Paul Denman, the bass player for Sade. His motto is "Why have mass-produced furniture when you can have a one-off practical piece of art?"

Richard is into photography. His photographic experience goes back to his teenage years when he began taking photographs with a mail order camera. His experience progressed and became part of his employment when he took crime scene and surveillance photos for a large Canadian police agency.

Retired, he came to the UAE with his wife last year and decided to record his experiences here. Richard has always regarded photography as magical, allowing him to capture moments in time and preserve them. He has recorded photographic excursions to Africa, Europe and Australia as well as extensive travel by motorcycle throughout Canada and the United States. His images of life in and around the UAE as well as his landscapes reflect the unusual and the beauty that abounds here. "Being new to the Emirates allows me to see things from a fresh perspective. I take the camera with me whenever I venture out. The lighting is amazing in the desert and the photographic opportunities are endless".

All his images in the exhibition are shot in digital format, allowing for various artistic interpretations as well as true-life renditions of the subjects.

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