Friday, 17 November 2017

It's that time of the year

First of Advent is only a couple of weeks away and Lucia less than a month. Today some of the kids in the Swedish community met up to start practising for our Lucia Celebrations at the Swedish Ambassadors residence in December.

We did some Christmas crafting, had some 'fika' and practised the songs. It made me happy that Linnea wanted to participate this year again.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Louvre of desert and light

Today I did my first (I say first, because I can see myself return over and over again!) visit to the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi.

As the school conferences are stretching over two days, the kids were off school today as well, so I thought I'd take them for a bit of cultural education. They did enjoy when we visited Louvre in Paris a few years ago, and also I wanted them to be part of history this very special opening week here in the capital. Linnea brought her friends A & D, and off we went.

After almost a decade of preparation, the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi has been highly anticipated. This is the first universal museum in the Arab World, with quite a unique approach to the history of art, and humanity.
I was surprised to see there was plenty of space in the car park and no queues at all, neither through the security screening nor by the ticket counter. 

A walk through the 12 galleries guide you through different periods in history by exploring our common humanity. It is done through the display of similar objects from different cultures and civilizations, emphasizing our shared human experience. The galleries are arranged both chronologically and thematically.
There are a huge amount of significant pieces on display, around 600 works of art. Half of them belong to the permanent exhibition, and half are on loan for temporary display.

We advanced pretty quickly through the first couple of galleries. I didn't mind too much, I knew I'll be back, and the kids wanted to see the paintings and sculptures they knew of; so we didn't linger too long at galleries with the most ancient times.

One of the masterpieces of the museum: "La Belle Ferronnière". It is the first painting by Leonardo da Vinci to be shown in the Middle East, expected to be on display here for the next year:

 The Horses of the Sun:

In this next gallery alone, you could find Manet, Monet, Degas, Whistler, Cezanne and many more. Lucas was impressed to see the size of "Whistler's Mother", a painting he had studied at school.
Several major French museums, such as the original Louvre, Musée Rodin, Château de Versailles, Musée d'Orsay and Centre Pompidou just to name a few, have lent artworks to the Louvre Abu Dhabi; both to form the permanent collection and for this opening exhibit, called "From one Louvre to Another". There will be four temporary exhibitions a year.

A selfie with a "selfie" by Van Gogh.

Sculptures by Edgar Degas:

The iconic painting "La Gare Saint-Lazare" by Claude Monet. "My" old commuting train station when I lived in Asnières during my year as an Au Pair. Also a painting I used to talk about when I did the excursion to Giverny (Monet's garden) during my years as a tour guide in Paris.

Sculpture by Giacometti:

Gallery 11 - Challenging Modernity.
Here we found art by Picasso, Pollock and Rothko - and the first piece the museum acquired, the 1922 painting by Piet Mondrian "Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black".

Not a great photo, but just wanted to share that even Sweden was represented! This flower pot was manufactured by Rörstrand.

The kids liked this impressive piece, Ai Weiwei's chandelier-like "Fountain of Light":

In the final gallery, A Global Stage:

We also went to see the Children's Museum part. It wasn't as big as I thought it would be, but the kids liked it a lot, especially the interactive parts of course.

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi building in itself is truly a work of art. The galleries are thoughtfully and beautifully laid out. Every so often you get occasional windows to the sky, the sea or the courtyards outside; and there is space designed for you to rest your eyes, give room to the art and let you breathe.
The unique use of light is magical - a "Rain of Light", as it's so amply described.

The dome weighs as much as the Eiffel Tower, 7,500 tonnes, and it appears to float above the galleries, as the four pillars it rests on are hidden within the museum.

This bronze sculpture is by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone and it's called "Leaves of Light". It was commissioned by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and has been designed to capture and reflect the rain of light generated by the steel canopy:

Huge paintings by Cy Twombly, Untitled I-IX:

Obligatory stop in the souvenir shop, of course!

I already can't wait to go back for another visit!

Three-way conferences

This week it was time for the first parent-teacher conferences of this school year. Well actually, they are correctly called three-way conferences, as the students are supposed to come along to the meets as well. So I had a long afternoon first taking one then the other back to school for their conferences.

They had different systems for the Grade 6 to the older grades this year. Linnea and I had to go to the gym, where all the teachers sat, and you had to queue up to each teacher you wished to speak to. Not a very well-functioning system I must say, we only managed to see 4 out of her 8 teachers in 1 1/2 h...
The ones we managed to see were all positive about how she had transitioned to MYP, and emphasized how positive and happy she is every day, and also very helpful and diligent.

For Lucas I got to book appointments, just like per usual. I booked with every single teacher, as I wanted to meet them all and get faces to their names.
His feedback was similar in the way that all the teachers told me how much they enjoy having him in their classes, that he has a lovely energy and is a well liked and popular kid who many others look up to. (His Grade Dean was disappointed he hadn't applied to become House Captain, as she thought it would've suited him really well.)
I was told that many of his teachers had noticed the improvement of the quality of his work, as he has started putting in more time in his homework, which was really nice.

I so enjoyed seeing the passion within each and every teacher though, they all really just want the kids to do their best. The Raha spirit is great!

Monday, 13 November 2017

So good for the soul

While attention in Abu Dhabi this week certainly is mostly focused on the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a few miles down the road another big cultural event took place at Manarat Al Saadyiat, the annual Abu Dhabi Art fair. I took Linnea and went over Friday evening, to see what it was all about.

This art fair takes place here in the capital each year in November, this being the 9th edition. It features art gallerias, art and design foundations as well as exciting talks, events and educational programs. This year a total of 47 different galleries from 18 different countries took part.

This fascinated me. These are the winners in a competition involving designing bottles for the Abu Dhabi Perfume initiative, a brand activation project.
The Abu Dhabi perfume is a sensory application of the Abu Dhabi brand, where four scents have been developed to represent the Emirate. The first scent is inspired by the nature and the 200 islands of Abu Dhabi; another by the hospitality - with notes of coffee and dates. The third scent represents the culture of Abu Dhabi and is based on spices and oud; whilst the last one, inspired by the open markets is floral and spicy.

The concept designs of the bottles also had picked up a lot of local themes, one was inspired by the desert dunes and the beaches; others took inspiration from the architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. One chose black colours inspired from the abaya and the kohl (eyeliner) and another used elements from the heritage such as camel leather and pearls. Very cool.

As much as I enjoyed the art, I also enjoyed the people watching at this event. The whole area was vibrating with this creative can-do, inclusive and openhearted attitude; it was very invigorating. 
I also have to mention all the fabulous outfits I saw, everybody were dressed to their teeth! Beautiful dresses, shoes and jewellery - and the local ladies and their amazing abayas... oaw! So pretty!

There was a huge Art Studio for children to try different art techniques, create and express themselves. Amazing!

We sat outside to have our dinner, the art installations stretched all the way out into the garden (and even into the bathrooms!) and there was soft music playing. What a good night!

It was truly an amazing experience to wander through the many galleries, with modern and contemporary art. The installations and artworks on display came from globally celebrated and up-and-coming artists. So much to see, all this beauty, all these colours, all the feelings the awoke - it was so good for the soul.
Next on the agenda - a visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi! Can't wait!