Unexpected billboard mediums


When you drive towards Ras-Al-Khaimah from Umm Al Quwain, you will find an old abandoned airplane parked in the sand near Barracuda Beach Resort.

Its story is not well-known. Some claim that it was forced to land due to shortage of fuel, whereas some say it was Soviet built and naturally reached the end of its days after being sold to many airlines.

The airplane is not branded however it has been repurposed as a signboard for Palma Beach Hotel. I find it interesting how it had an unexpected afterlife as a billboard.

It makes us think what can we do with our bulky and big scrap items?

Market OTB, which stands for Market out of the box, was held at Burj Plaza during Dubai Shopping Festival 2014. It involved local shops, designers & eateries set up in container crates. I was fascinated by how this was used as a housing medium. Spacious, protective and large surface area gave participants of the market the opportunity to customize each of their respective boxes. Look at Joseph Manata’s piece:

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a mobile billboard for du the telecom provider at Citywalk. It used an old and modern model of the Beetle parked next to each other to convey its message. The vintage car carried the copy “Don’t be stuck in your old world” while the new model had the words “Keep your 050 number and change to du”

Even in a developing city such as Dubai, where a lot of things are fairly new and polished, we can still find rustic things that make charming pieces of art.

If you want to see more of Market OTB

Under my umbrella


If you have visited Dubai Miracle Garden, you’re probably familiar with its lush works. I am always taken aback by the upkeep of its landscaping.

What is interesting about the garden is that it makes something organic almost inorganic because the greenery is treated to form all kinds of shapes and settings. Dolled up cars, to peacock bushes and even heart-shaped arches it creates a wonderful park. Especially for those couple shoots.

The plants are used as a medium in this place. It makes objects and animals seem soft and almost in motion because of the way it waves and curls around the structures.

Its taken a lot of cues from abroad and amplified it here in true Dubai fashion. We live in a hot city, which is why I thought the adaptation of the umbrella pathway found in Agueda, Portugal is perfect in this context. It blends in like an archway of colorful flowers in the garden, serving to shade as well as create an organic, imperfect pattern to mimic nature.

The umbrellas defy gravity, fooling us for just a second that they are floating in mid-air.

If you want to visit Dubai Miracle Garden


Steamy Bathrooms


Working in the ad industry, my eyes are always open to what people put out here commercially. Be it its medium, message or material, Dubai has a different audience to the West and brands have to be tactful when plastering an ad here. It has to be safe, yet sexy. At the end of the day, many of Dubai’s audiences have conservative values, and brands should and do respect them.

Axe ad in bathroom of People by Crystal

Axe ad in bathroom of People by Crystal

Axe ad in bathroom of People by Crystal

Axe ad in bathroom of People by Crystal

Closeup of Axe ad

Closeup of Axe ad

One such ad caught my eye recently. In the bathroom of People by Crystal. Both elegant and sensual, and tastefully executed, the ad was for Axe Dark Temptation and Axe Gold Temptation.

The mirror medium was exploited wonderfully because it complemented the visual message. There were two female silhouettes on either side of the mirror that were each a pose and pressed up against the barrier. The blur edged silhouette treatment made it seem it was almost in a hot shower and as if there was a condensation on the glass.

It created another world on the other side proportionate to you, so that just for a second you can be pleasantly fooled.

The supporting line was “Temptations no woman can resist”

One thought that went through my head was, I wonder how the ad ran in the mens bathroom?

If used right, mirrors can reflect and amplify a message very powerfully. It is an interactive medium, you become part of the piece as well.

So my artsy fartsy readers, how other ways can mirrors work in our favour to convey a message?

I’ll leave you with one last thought by the Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian, “The mirror reflects the sky, water and every colour,” she says. “It is a symbol of light and life and when you stand in front of my mirror work and see the reflections, you are a part of the work itself.” Her dazzling mosaic mirror work was exhibited a while back at The Third Line.

If you want to visit The Third Line

If you want to go to People by Crystal

Or if you’re tempted by Axe


Repurposing & Recycling


All artists have gotten on this bandwagon at some point. Whether it was your recycled plastic water bottle to hold water for your brushes, reusing bubble wrap or some other interesting material to create texture, or even using newspapers as your canvas.

My art teacher always used to tell me two things: Firstly, always be resourceful with any material. Secondly, get messy. If you don’t want to, don’t call yourself an artist.

Entrance at fume

Entrance at fume

I recently went to eat at fume at Pier 7 Dubai Marina. The restaurant is absolutely charming. It has a construction theme throughout placed in a modern context. There are glass bottles covering suspended lightbulbs, trouser hangers for holding menu pages together and even wooden box crates that house plants.

At the last DIFC Art Night, I was immersed into the work of Abdulnasser Gharem I observed at Ayyam Gallery. I recalled his concrete block piece which had “Don’t trust the concrete” inscribed. The thick red and white stripes in the block are used in certain walls in the restaurant fume as it complements its theme. Abdulnasser Gharem’s intention with his piece was to make a statement with mental barriers. His work stands to promote to think for yourself, and not let an accepted ideology sit in your head.

Table Number Holder at fume restaurant at Pier 7

Table Number Holder at fume restaurant at Pier 7

Back to fume, the table numbers were attached to a flower made out of recycled cans. I thought it was interesting because it repurposed a Schweppes can, which is made from a cold and hard material into an object that is soft and delicate. I particularly loved how the barcode takes up two “petals”.

A few years ago, Red Bull ran a competition for artists to use their cans as a medium. The “art of can” was truly a great move to get inspired recycled works. You can see more here.

So, my artsy readers, get going and find a material to transform into something! Or if you want to step out…

If you want to eat at fumé

If you want to visit Ayyam Gallery

If you want to catch Art Night DIFC