Different Dialogues : Interview with Extended & Enlarged Interview of Ms. Shelly Young – Art Historian in Dubai-UAE.

Interview with Extended & Enlarged Interview of Ms. Shelly Young – Art Historian in Dubai-UAE.


Educational background: Post-Graduate Diploma in the History of Art and Architecture from East Anglia University, U.K.
Bachelors of Arts Degree at Cape Town University.

When Shelly was four years old, her father took her for a short visit to The Louvre, in Paris.  Keeping her age in mind, her dad asked her after a while, if she had already had enough with the place.  “He asked me the same question time and again.  I had the same answer of letting him know that I hadn’t had enough of the place!”  Shelly remembers that with an expression of delight.  From the age of 16, Shelly has been studying history of art.  Now, as an art historian, she has to carry out extensive studies to link up the social, political, biographical events connected with visual arts.


Strange though it may seem, within moments, Shelly and myself were sharing our common enthusiasm, when we jointly analyzed the vast potentials of art in its various forms.  For instance, we discussed how art installations created for a specific cause and incorporating the exact message can move the pages of history; art installations can prove to be utterly unique in giving relevant and useful messages in the location.  The dimensions can be such – the environment could almost be undisturbed with any boundaries or hurdles.  I could easily relate to the fact that Shelly is talented, energetic and full of imagination.  We returned to the usual questions: Where as an art historian had she studied?  What was she currently doing?  I learnt that Shelly Young did her Post-Graduate Diploma in the History of Art and Architecture in U.K. at East Anglia University’s acclaimed Sainsbury Centre, after completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Cape Town University.  Later, she went on to study at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.  She has a special interest in 20th Century Modern Art and is currently researching about the influence of Modernism on Contemporary Islamic Art. 


Shelly is also a serious collector of contemporary Gulf Art and Antique Oriental Art.  The beautiful work of her private collection is shown by the walls of the living room where Shelly and myself sat.  With the seal of her knowledge, I understood the role of art historians; to preserve the clarity of her statements, Shelly pointed to a contemporary style painting which hung in front of us. The human face conceived in red strokes precisely concised in a fit description following Shelly’s training as an art historian.  She could virtually give the horoscope of the painting!  By that I mean, Shelly explained to me the artists emotions, the advent of the particular work and how this specific work was modelled.


Shelly described her University years as astounding because she found the standards of those centres absolutely incredible.  The extensive lessons at The Royal Academy of Art in London offered her continuity in studying Turner and Constable – both of whom are internationally renowned British landscapists. 


Shelly stated, with the emergence of new ideas, there is a great desire among our society-members to learn about art development – which can be considered in the category of: Art appreciation.  Apart from focused research, Shelly’s working days are occupied with her giving art talks conducted in art workshops.  The lectures may range from French Impressionism to Art Nouveau to Picasso.


Art Sawa in Dubai is an example as a venue for Shelly Young.


Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. Two things bound with each other.  First, I met my husband, Rupert, in East Anglia University in Norwich U.K. – where both of us were studying history of art.  (Rupert has subsequently branched off into the field of finance.)  Second, our coming to the Middle East.


Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. This will make you laugh.  I wish that we had moved to the Middle East much sooner.


Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. I know exactly what they are!  I’d like to produce a series of books about the first Orientalists (artists) who have enriched us with the pictorial records of what they saw in the Gulf.


Extended & Enlarged Version of Ms.  Shelly Young – Art Historian in Dubai-UAE.


Educational background: Post-Graduate Diploma in the History of Art and Architecture from East Anglia University, U.K.
Bachelors of Arts Degree at Cape Town University.


Q 1.   In your view, what is most important in life?  Accordingly, name three aspects, important in life.
A. The most important three aspects in my life are my family, my religion and moral beliefs and an appreciation of the Arts.


Without the support and love of a strong family network, life would be very lonely and difficult. One of the saddest things in the Modern World is the breakdown of family life. We should enjoy close and extended family relationships and we should encourage the younger generation to spend time with their Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins and learn from them.


I have a strong faith, I am an Anglican Christian and I respect all religions. Again, the Modern World, especially in the West, seems to be rejecting religious faith and that is very sad, especially for the younger generation who often have no contact with religion and can never even decide if it is for them or not, they are ignorant. One of the things I most admire about the United Arab Emirates is Islam and the tolerance shown by Emirati's to allow others to worship in their own faith here, rare in the Middle East and a kind and wise law made by our leaders.


By appreciating and supporting the Arts, Literature, Poetry, Music, Dance and Fine Art we can enrich our lives. It is natural for human beings to be drawn to aesthetic beauty both manmade and in nature and also to use the Arts to work through Politics, War and other darker experiences and to use art to communicate and reach out to others and to future generations. We can also learn about ourselves through history and by learning about others as described in literature.


Q 2.   If you were not doing what you are doing now, what would you be doing?
A. If I was not an Art Historian, I would probably be a writer of fiction or biographies as I took two majors for my under-graduate degree, Art History and English Literature, as I was so interested in both subjects!


Q 3.   What motivates you to achieve your goal?
A. I am motivated to achieve by curiosity, I love learning about new things, new cultures and new facts. I believe curiosity and a love of life is what keeps you young! Children have this quality, try not to lose it as you grow up.


Q 4.   How do you handle stress and pressure?
A. Stress and Pressure are part of normal life, imagine how it must have been for our ancestors! When we are not challenged, we get bored and bored individuals can be tempted into bad choices. It is best to channel stress into energy and achievement although I find listening to classical music, especially Handel or Mozart, really helps.


Q 5.   Which of your qualities would you want to pass down to your child/children?
A. I would hope that my children inherit my ability to keep trying, try not to give up too easily and don't forget to be happy and remain humble!


Q 6.   Who is your favourite author?  Which book of your favourite author have you enjoyed the best?
A. It is difficult to name a favourite author as I have so many! However Joseph Conrad is one of my favourite authors as his use of the English language is sublime and his novels are set in exotic places! He spoke several languages, English was his third language. He was born in the Ukraine in 1857, of Polish parents who died when he was young so he went to sea and therefore travelled the world. He settled in England and is famous for his novels in English, my favourite is a short story, 'Youth'.


Q 7.   What are you pursuing currently, by the way of a light hobby, or by the way of a serious goal?
A. My hobby is collecting Antique Oriental Artworks and my serious goal is to build up the UAE office of 'International Art Consultants', which I opened on behalf of the London Head Office, in March this year. We are in Media City, Dubai.


Q 8. In the last one year, is your particular goal advancing? Which is that goal/ dream?
A. My goal over the last year has been to establish the United Arab Emirates office IAC and we are growing and working on several projects here and in Abu Dhabi, to source and install artworks for corporate and private companies in the Gulf Region.


For further information, check website: http://www.artsawa.com


The Initial Interview of Ms. Shelly Young was posted on www.geetachhabra.com in March 2013.