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UK artist to present solo portraiture exhibition at Stal Gallery

15 Jan 2023 portraiture By HUBERT VAZ

UK artist Heather Ford returns to Oman for a second time with a new creative concept on portraiture up her sleeve. The magic will flow forth tomorrow (January 16) evening at Stal Gallery

‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’ – a solo exhibition by Heather Ford, UK artist, is set to provide deeper insights into a string of portraits created by the artist in a unique a manner – a concept that’s a fresh creative offering from the artist.

The portraiture exhibition will be inaugurated on January 16 at Stal Gallery under the auspices of Al Sayyida Wafa Hilal Hamed al Busaidi and continue till January 23.

Heather, who is currently on a short visit to Oman this time round, says she had spent some of her most fruitful years as an artist when she had first moved to Oman in 2010. However, she is now hopeful of coming back again.

“I had no idea then, about the profound effect my coming to Oman would have on my life. I fell in love with this beautiful country and its people. It felt like I was being lifted up and ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’,” Heather says, adding that it was Oman’s rich culture and heritage which inspired her to paint with renewed passion.

She was welcomed into the community by Omani artists who helped her believe in her abilities and find new expression for her talent in the sultanate.

“I learned so much from them. They gave me the confidence to explore new ideas and techniques, she said, adding, “For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed drawing and painting portraits. I have always been able to capture a good likeness of a person. But over the past few years, I realised that portraiture is much more than just what a person looks like. So I began to paint portraits in a new way – portraits that have a deeper meaning.”

The concept of this exhibition had dawned her in the Summer of 2018 itself when, after eight wonderful years of living in Oman, she had to return to the UK.

This exhibition comprises a series of paintings that are made up of a variety of ‘icons’ and images that represent each individual and thus giving an insight into who they truly are. The icons are symbolic and significant, giving the viewer more knowledge and understanding, delving deep into the portraits’ souls.

Explaining her new take on portraiture and iconography, Heather says, “I used to paint symbols in my portraits that had no meaning. People used to say to me, ‘What do the symbols mean?’ and it got me thinking. So, I started to paint portraits that were made up of a variety of icons and images, thus giving an insight into who they truly are.”

She explained the message from the exhibition, that everyone gets their ideas and inspiration from someone who has influenced them to follow their dreams. This portraiture exhibition portrays six young individuals from different walks of life, and alongside them are portraits of those who have influenced them to follow their dreams.

Heather Ford will be giving an Art Talk on her work and providing Portraiture workshops for those wishing to try some of the techniques used in the exhibition, on January 18 between 4pm to 7pm.

The Student

(Amjad al Zadjali standing on the shoulders of Hassan Meer)

“My role model has to be my father. For the past three years I have been studying at Florida International University, and as I reflect, and look back on my childhood, I feel a deep sense of gratitude and love.

I was brought up with my brothers and sisters in a lively and vibrant home that centered around my immediate and extended family. It’s an Omani tradition that everyone gets together, often at mealtimes, and my fondest memories are those that usually come from these special gatherings and the sharing of food. However, my father is not my chosen role model for this reason alone – he is much, much more.

My father, Hassan Meer, is a highly acclaimed Omani artist, mentor and curator who is at the forefront of Oman’s contemporary art scene and I am continually inspired by his innovative ways of working, all of which revolves around Oman’s rich culture and heritage. His paintings, photography and installations are often linked to his spiritual beliefs, his childhood memories, and those of my great grandfathers house where he was raised.

When my father was growing up, art was not considered important in schools, but art was his passion and in his heart. He worked really hard to get an art scholarship. He was 23 years old when he began his studies, and six years later, in 2001, he graduated from Savanna College of Art and Design, Georgia USA. My father never gave up and he followed his dreams – his calling in life.

He is now a central figure in Oman who works tirelessly to raise the profile of Omani art. He discovers and mentors emerging artists and encourages them to push boundaries in contemporary and innovative ways. My father is helping to pave the way for the next Omani art generation, and beyond.

My father, Hassan Meer, reminds me to be the best I can be. He reminds me to be humble and full of gratitude, and to never ever give up.”

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