Breath of fresh art: inside Nat Bowen’s Dubai home

The British artist likens her villa to the white cube of a gallery — though it is homely thanks to cosy furnishings and pops of colour

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The first artwork Nat Bowen sold in Dubai, transposing it from the wall of her home to that of a collector's, was called Black Diamond.

Made up of 1,000 carats of the precious stones in crushed form and interspersed with dust from a 4.6-billion-year-old meteorite, the piece sold for Dh430,000 ($117,000) soon after Bowen, a British resin artist, moved to the UAE last October.

“It was a hard piece to part with,” Bowen says. “But it’s always nice to know somebody loves an artwork, and would spend so much money to possess it and have it in their home.

Always think about what colours suit the space you're displaying a work of art in
Nat Bowen, artist

“In any case, I am constantly looking to free up space in my house, so I can create and display more art. For me as an artist, it’s important to live with my work. Sometimes I’ll put up pieces at home before I exhibit them to see how they feel, see if they are ‘finished’, as it were. They inspire me even though they are my own,” says Bowen.

“What also tends to happen is people get a chance to see on social media how a painting looks in context, and they get in touch to buy it. My home is almost like a revolving gallery."

Indeed, a tour of Bowen’s Jumeirah 3 villa reveals a space decked out with her large and largely colourful resin artworks, which have attracted the eye of connoisseurs, collectors and celebrities alike.

A model for success – the disruptive artist who is making Dubai home

A model for success – the disruptive artist who is making Dubai home

“With a lot of art, you should not expose it to sunlight for prolonged periods of time, but resin is more durable and comes to life when displayed under natural light,” says Bowen.

While it’s hard to swap out bigger pieces — be they art or furniture — Bowen says switching smaller artworks around helps keep a space fresh. “Moving a smaller painting or accessory to a different room or different part of the same room allows you to see it from another perspective and feel new appreciation for an old piece," she says.

“I would also advise collectors to think about what colours suit the space they're displaying a work of art in.”

'Vibe' looms large above the dining table in artist Nat Bowen's home. Chris Whiteoak / The National

One of Bowen’s favourite pieces, Vibe (“the one I would never part with or move around”), hangs in the dining area, and is almost always a point of conversation, given its overpowering size, lashings of colour and eye-catching shapes. In contrast, Vortex, which hangs in the master bedroom on the second level, is stark, monochromatic and almost hypnotic.

“The bedroom is our haven, and everything is very considered here. Vortex channels feelings of tranquillity, so you can let your mind relax after a busy day. I can almost go into another realm, a dream space, the longer I stare at it,” says Bowen, who reveals actor Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina have commissioned a similar piece for their London home — while F1 legend Eddie Jordan went for a piece called Flash, akin to Vibe size and style-wise.

'Vortex' in the master bedroom. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Bowen, who has decorated the three-level, six-bedroom villa herself, says it was a deliberate decision that the rest of the home matches the room in terms of its neutral palette — think white walls and light floors — in a bid to let the artworks pop. “The living areas almost resemble the white cube space of a gallery. At the same time, I wanted to create a homely and tactile vibe, so I played a lot with texture — cosy rugs, boucle sofas, sheepskin and arc lamps that exude a mid-century vibe.”

Most of the furniture was bought from stores including CB2 and Home & Soul, says Bowen, although a lot of the outdoor furniture and bean bag chairs were purpose-built by Adams Furniture in Al Quoz.

The artist, who used to live in central London, also considers herself “very fortunate” to have the luxury of space in Dubai where she can have her studio within her home.

Bowen's studio doubles as her dressing room. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“To have this creative space to dip in and out of is an artist’s dream. It’s one of my favourite rooms in the house. My husband and I love having family and friends come over to stay, but in a house full of guests, it’s also nice knowing there is my studio I can escape to and get on with my work,” she says.

“I’ve also taken full ownership of this room. It has my walk-in wardrobe and a big bathtub. So I can paint all day and just get dressed there — it truly is my zone and such a luxury.”

The villa also has a garden and swimming pool on the ground floor and a rooftop terrace on the third level, which enjoys views of Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and sunsets over the Arabian Gulf.

When it comes to favourite decor elements, Bowen cites the arc lamps; a colourful chessboard she designed for and gave to her husband as a Christmas present (“it’s a fun piece to have in the centre of the living room”); and a white grand piano that sits under the stairs and overlooks the pool (“it’s part of the living space, but feels a bit more private, so I can be in my own little world when I am playing”).

Nat Bowen’s works can be experienced at a display located in the ArtKorero Pop-Up Gallery within THAT Concept Store in Mall of the Emirates until October 2; and at BCH:CLB, a beach club set to open at W Dubai — The Palm this year

Scroll through the gallery below for a peek inside NMC chief executive Michael Davis’s art-filled home

Updated: September 16, 2022, 5:29 AM