Grand de­signs

Scale and sym­me­try in the MENA re­gion

7 Days in Dubai - - LIFE -

The ar­chi­tec­tural aes­thet­ics of the Arab world are the fo­cus of a new ex­hi­bi­tion at The Gal­le­ria, Al Maryah Is­land. Award-win­ning pho­tog­ra­pher Mark Lus­combe-Whyte will present the Ar­chi­tec­tural Di­gest (AD) Mid­dle East ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tur­ing 38 cu­rated im­ages from his body of work in the re­gion.

The strik­ing im­ages, which are a com­bi­na­tion of fa­cades, in­te­ri­ors, por­traits and ab­stracts, were care­fully selected to em­pha­sise the unique beauty of the re­gion, its struc­tures, peo­ple and sto­ries they tell. The Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher, who has been based in France for 12 years, has worked with the in­ter­na­tional magazine and de­sign au­thor­ity since it started. What the pub­lic will see in this ex­hibit is a com­bi­na­tion of old and new works taken from the cap­i­tal and the ta­ble books he has au­thored.

“In very sim­ple words, I like the ge­om­e­try in Ara­bic art and in­te­ri­ors. There’s a sym­me­try I re­ally en­joy. I was at­tracted to it be­cause it was in­cred­i­bly vis­ual, wel­com­ing and an in­ter­est­ing en­vi­ron­ment to work in,” he says of the ap­peal of Islamic ar­chi­tec­ture.

His broad spec­trum of com­mis­sioned jobs has taken him to Saudi Ara­bia, Le­banon, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE, where he has seen amaz­ing things rise up from the sand. He said: “Some­one asked me to sum it up in a sen­tence, and all I can say is the re­gion is on ar­chi­tec­tural steroids. “All over the UAE there have been ex­tra­or­di­nary struc­tures com­ing up.” Among them is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which was an im­por­tant shoot for Mark. He says: “Nor­mally, I would re­quest a day, but I re­quested two days for this be­cause it’s a com­pli­cated space. I re­ally wanted to pho­to­graph it well. It was a te­dious two days for them. “The lights in the re­gion are beau­ti­ful, but can turn harsh quickly, so I wanted two dawns and two sun­sets. It was quite an im­mense shoot, the art direc­tor had a pe­dome­ter in her pocket and for two days we walked nearly 30km around the mosque.” Mark says ar­chi­tec­tural and de­sign pho­tog­ra­phy need not be com­pli­cated, but like any art, it needs the right eye and ef­fort: “It boils down to the essence of the build­ing and it takes time to do. I think we pho­tographed the mosque in a very min­i­mal way. “We also some­times use small fig­ures in the pic­ture to give it a sense of scale. For

me, the main shot was the domes and two minarets (main photo). To me that is a very beau­ti­ful and sim­ple im­age.”

Pho­tog­ra­phy, he says, is a very self­ish oc­cu­pa­tion, but he wants to share this vis­ual ex­pe­ri­ence and re­veal the man who fell in love with this part of the world.

Mark says: “What I re­ally want is peo­ple take a lit­tle bit in­spi­ra­tion from the im­agery, pos­si­bly make them think or en­gage them. The por­traits have a lot of res­o­nance, they’re al­most like trea­sured memories. Lots of them were taken 20 years ago when I was a young man. It takes me back to more peace­ful time, there was a lot more op­ti­mism in the world at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment.

“The con­tem­po­rary im­ages of in­te­ri­ors, they’re records show­ing how much the re­gion and the UAE have de­vel­oped.”

IN­SIDE: Crys­tal chan­de­lier ICONIC: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Mark Lus­combeWhyte’s ex­hibit runs un­til De­cem­ber 6 at The Gal­le­ria MOROCCO: Min­is­tero del Gusto stairs and The Mosque of Tin­mel

ABLUTION: A guest bath­room in the home of Prince Faisal bin Sat­tam Ab­du­laziz Al Saud

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