1997, al, al.rigga, arab, art, artist, arts, axis, battle, canvas, chalk, chalker, chalking, chalks, Dubai, emirates, festival, history, news, pavement, pavement art, paving, philip, publication, rigga, screever, screeving, shopping, stone, street, UAE, united, urban, urbancanvas
First pavement artists in the United Arab Emirates.
For 5 weeks during March and April 1997, two British artists; Myself & Tim Pugh from North Wales, where invited to take part in only the second Dubai Shopping Festival billed as “pavement artists from Europe!”….this was a feature published in The Gulf News during our visit, 15 years ago.
Written by Yvette Aubusson-Foley
Transcribed & edited by Philip Battle.
-sub heading: Pavement Artists paint leopard tracks.
They don’t juggle plates. They don’t ride backwards on mono cycles or walk on stilts to appear eight feet tall. They are, however, flooring spectators in the aisles, or in this case on the footpath on Al Rigga Street, with their Pavement Art.
“The reaction we’re getting is totally new to us,” says Tim Pugh, one of two pavement artists invited to Dubai for the Shopping Festival.
“People have never seen this type of thing here before. It’s refreshing as an artist to see how very curious they are about the medium.”
“There is so much scope to experiment here,” says Philip Battle, 38 from Liverpool, England; who shares with Pugh the honour of being a past winner of Britain’s Pavement Art Festival, the catalyst behind their meeting.
“You can do many things which involve people. You can create playthings, draw attention to issues. I try to get people interacting in some way with the art,” the self-taught artist says. Battle has taken up a cause close to the hearts of animal lovers in the UAE by dedicating a Pavement Art work-in-progress to the extremely endangered Arabian Leopard, “I’ve recreated the tracks of the Arabian leopard which people can colour-in, starting near Kentucky Fried Chicken and will continue them along Al Rigga Street,” he says of his dry pastels work titled, ‘A Walk on the Wild Side—In the footsteps of an Arabian Leopard’.
Amazed that the leopard is ten times rarer than the giant panda. Battle believes that “seeing the footprints of an Arabian Leopard is about as close to one that people are ever going to get.”
“Pavement Art speaks a universal language,” says Battle who has been involving children in simulating hand print impressions on the footpath, similar to those found in Australian aboriginal rock painting.
Tim’s art, done on paper with oil pastels, uses ancient designs taken from diverse cultures such as Peruvian and Celtic.
“These are quite simple designs,” says Pugh, who was picked to represent Pavement Art at the Dubai Shopping Festival by the Welsh Arts Council who found him via AXIS, an information directory of artists in Britain. “When I knew that I’d be coming here, I thought my images would mostly be impressions of Dubai,” says Pugh.
“I decided, instead on bringing to Dubai aspects of our culture seen in Celtic designs. People from all over the world are stopping to ask about them, because they see similarities in the arts, particularly jewellery, from their own cultures.”
Pugh and Battle say the festival would be the perfect time to run the city’s own Pavement Art Festival.
“At the festival in Britain, all kind of artists will work for eight and nine hours a day doing everything from sculpture to performance art right there on the footpath,” says Pugh, who has been sculpting in Spain and will return to the UK to teach art in schools and to handicapped children.
first published in The Gulf News, Friday 25th April, 1997.