Homing in on the aesthetic aspects of birds of prey

Unveiled yesterday, Birds of Prey is the first exhibition for Christine Allison, a British artist enamoured with the UAE’s falconry culture.

The British artist Christine Allison stands against her painting White Gyr Falcon. Courtesy Christinen Allison
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An exhibition that pays tribute to the UAE’s rich and revered tradition of falconry was unveiled yesterday in Abu Dhabi.

Christine Allison, a British artist, created a series of detailed oil paintings and dramatic charcoal drawings of falcons, hawks and other birds of prey for the two-week show that is the seventh exhibition to be held at Avenue in the capital’s Jumeirah Etihad Towers.

Allison says that she was drawn to falconry because it is a traditional aspect of the UAE that is still very much alive today.

She also says that painting the birds was a decision that she could not help but make. “I would say the birds chose me,” she explains.

“Three years ago, I bought my husband a gift of a day’s falconry in the New Forest in the south-west of England. It was a cold January day, I went as a spectator but I was so captivated by the sheer beauty, power and presence of the birds that I almost cried. They touched my soul and the very next day I began drawing and painting from the photographs I had taken of hawks, eagles and owls. I have been painting these beautiful creatures ever since.”

Allison trained at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London, the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture and the University of Exeter in UK and has exhibited widely in the UK. This show is her first in the UAE and she says the country has an exciting arts scene.

“There is a real sense of something bubbling and growing and alive here,” she says. “I am very impressed with Abu Dhabi Art Hub and the development of Saadiyat Island is very exciting. There also seems to be a myriad of fascinating smaller, private galleries showing a rich variety of styles and media and plenty of workshops and classes for all ages. So I would say the art scene seems to be an important part of UAE life.”

• Birds of Prey will be on display daily at Avenue at Etihad Towers until November 30. Christine Allison is available to meet visitors at the exhibition tonight from 7pm. For more information on the artist, visit www.christineallison.com


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