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Searching for cup cakes at the Majlis Market

June 8, 2010
In the courtyard or majlis

In the courtyard of majlis of the Majlis Gallery

When I feel very wound up, a visit to the Majlis Gallery soothes my soul.  And the rapidly created city of Dubai, full of gleaming and awe-inspiring in places, can lack soul.  The control of business by a limited number of locals means that restaurants, shops etc. can be very impersonal,  I guess this is the same the world over as big corporates dominate more and more.  Setting up a small business is expensive and difficult.  In other countries you could start a little cottage industry from home and see if it worked out, paying tax when you started to make a profit.  The permission-based system here means you have to get a trade license, a sponsor and premises from day one.

Despite this the artists and craft community seem to survive, if not thrive and I don’t know how I’d missed the market at The Majlis Gallery until now (the last one of the season, usually held on the first Saturday of the month).  This traditional house with windtowers was Alison Collin’s family home which, turning her passion for art into a business,  she converted into a gallery.  Alison’s eye is superb.  She receives hundreds of applications from artists every month and her choice of work is varied and original.


Linda Styles colourful work.

A friendly guard let us into the special free car park reserved for customers which meant we only had to walk a few paces.  Thank goodness for that as the temperatures were soaring into the 40 Cs.  Apparently it’s usually buzzing in the gallery on a market day, but the humidity and heat had kept the crowds away.  We admired what was on the stalls which reflected the quality and eclectic nature of the gallery’s art; the artisans and vendors were really friendly too.

A few highlights:

  • Zanzibar Dreamin’ – A colourful and original collection of cloth items, baskets and jewellery from Tanzania
  • Sue Tyson – Elegant  and lovingly-made jewellery designed with an artist’s eye inspired by geology and nature.
  • Nader Nikmorad – Artisan pieces made of wood including watches that were almost like cartoons in real life.
  • Rose Milano – Jewellery made of cloth and thread and other fabric adornments (I adore my woolen necklace and bracelet that I bought 2 years ago)
  • The little fair trade shop – A collection of fair trade items from around the world
  • And part of the current exhibition vibrant paintings and ceramics by Linda Styles

The food connection was supposed to be the cup cake stand – a key motivation for my daughters to accompany me – but the cake makers pulled out the night before.  I think the icing would have melted.  We had to be content with paintings of fruit by John Gregson and ceramic fruit by Nicki Smart.

Khaled al Saai painting

Fabulous calligraphy by Khaled al Saai behind embroidered towels.

  1. June 9, 2010 1:24 pm

    What a lovely website and blog! So refreshing and easy to read, and lovely pictures!! Never heard of My Custard Pie before but it’s a great name. Think it’s a great online source to visit and learn about Dubai if you’re a newcomer. Actually just know someone who’s recently arrived in Dubai so will forward it onto them!

  2. June 13, 2010 2:40 pm

    Hello Sally,
    I came across your wonderful blog today and would like to thank you for mentioning my work, I am sorry not to have met you, I expect it was Balu that you met, such a friendly and helpful man. Are you based in Dubai? Rebecca de Courcy Ireland (PA to Alison) has let me know that there is a few teaching opportunities on my next visit, so i plan to sta a little longer next time – I love Dubai and it’s people, I had not expected to but I like extremes and it is certainly that. I am based in Cornwall UK but am originally from London.
    I hope that we can keep in touch.
    Best wishes,

    • June 13, 2010 2:59 pm

      Thanks for the nice comments Sue and Linda and yes I’m based in Dubai and I’m really glad you like the post. I’d love to meet up next time you are here – or maybe even Cornwall which I love and visit every summer. I think your work is beautiful.

      • June 13, 2010 3:06 pm

        I would love to meet you in Cornwall, Alison is quite close on the Lizard, I am in Falmouth on the south coast, I am usually in my studio, perhaps I can show you where i make all my work, I also have a showroom in the attic. Looking forward to meeting up in Cornwall or Dubai.

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