A self-portrayal of homesickness by Dubai artist

A self-portrayal of homesickness by Dubai artist
Karen Axworthy tries to reveal the feelings of a melancholic expat through her paintings.

Dubai - UK-born Karen Axworthy says her plunge into painting is not coincidental.


Kelly Clarke

Published: Sun 6 Sep 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 6 Sep 2015, 10:51 AM

What makes an artist travel the realms of colours and lines? Is it just a coincidence or an inborn talent developed through the years?
While most artists fail to clear such doubts of common man, Dubai-based artist Karen Axworthy, says it's not "any old coincidence" that she has a flair for painting.
With her grandparents rubbing shoulders with 'The King of Painters', Andrew Vicari - personal portrait artist to the Arabian Royals in the seventies - Axworthy was always surrounded by art, creativity and inspiring stories while growing up in a small town in Wales, UK.
For her, the life of an artist was always "encouraged from a young age".
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Axworthy says her dream is to leave the regular 9 to 5 job and become a full time freelance artist, where "passion and spontaneity" fulfills the soul.
Do you think artists are 'born artists'?
I think anyone can have a go, and draw. I don't believe these people who say that they can't draw anything. Having said that, I do think some of us are more sensitive and see things in a way that others cannot - these are the artists, the poets and the musicians in the world. We're a little quirky and deep.
What is your earliest memory of art?
I have so many memories of being creative as a child. Both my grandparents were very creative people. My grandfather loved painting in oils. Through him, I learned all the names of the paint colours, how to mix them, which colours complemented which. I grew up with stories of my grandparents going to evening art classes with the famous Welsh-Italian Artist, Andrew Vicari, before he "made it". He is known as 'The King of Painters' as he became very rich painting portraits of the Arabian Royals in the 1970s.
When are you at your most creative?
Painting is not something you can switch on and off like a 9-5 job. I cannot predict that I am going to feel creative just because I have a free weekend. I don't like to make too many plans actually, in case it does come. That drives some of my friends a little bit mad.
Where did the inspiration for your latest exhibition come from? What is it called?
The latest exhibition is held along the Glass Corridor of Jumeriah Creekside Hotel. It is called 'Captured on Canvas - A collection between here and there'. There are 17 pieces of my work on display, inspired by my feelings, emotions, and memories of my life in Dubai since I moved here three years ago. The heavy monotone pieces are passionate and melancholic with homesickness. Then the latest free, fun and fresh colourful drip art pieces are from a happier place. These latest ones are very Dubai.
Please describe the exhibit in one sentence.
It's an eclectic mix of artwork directly from the soul of an artist who is originally from an ancient place but is living in a new place.
The exhibit is a collection of paintings. What other materials make up your palette as an artist?
I work in acrylic paint mainly with brush, pallet knife techniques. But I also experiment with charcoal, water colour, paper, shells, and spray paint. Sometimes I paint with my bare hands. I must be one of the few girls in Dubai who can't have a regular manicure - and when I do it's hard to explain bright blue paint under the nails at the salon.
Do you introduce personal experiences into your work?
Always. My work is emotional. I don't think I could produce a piece of work without introducing a personal experience into it. To me, art always needs to have heart, otherwise, it is empty. There is no point in empty art. Original artwork should always have depth. I think people forget that in this day and age where everything is available instantly and mass produced.
You're now exhibiting in the UAE. How are people in the Middle East reacting to your work?
It's amazing actually. I think the UAE is the land of opportunity, and whatever you want to do, you can do it here.
How would you describe your time in Dubai so far in regards to your status as an artist?
Growing! It has opened the door to so many opportunities and people that I would not normally have encountered. I don't think this opportunity would have come along in my little homeland of Wales.
Was art something you always wanted to pursue?
I had a creative upbringing, and I was always actively painting or drawing. It came very naturally to me. I used to draw or paint on everything; my exercise books at school; my Doctor Martin boots as a teenager. When I went to college for an interview and showed my portfolio of work to the Arts Department, they encouraged me to drop other subjects and pursue art.
When did your passion for art turn serious?
I would say my passion has always been very serious to me. When I paint, I get completely lost in it. But, it is through meeting new people in Dubai who have encouraged me to have the confidence to exhibit my work. It has made me take things more seriously. I do my artwork around a normal day job, which I enjoy, but it's my dream and ambition to be a freelance artist within next 5 years.
Exhibition by Karen Axworthy will run till September 17 at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel

A display of her artwork at the Glass Corridor of Jumeirah Creekside Hotel.
A display of her artwork at the Glass Corridor of Jumeirah Creekside Hotel.
The artist dedicates her colourful drip art to Dubai.
The artist dedicates her colourful drip art to Dubai.

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