Different Dialogues : Ms. Alison Collins

In conversation with Ms. Alison Collins – Founder/Owner of The Majlis Gallery, Dubai.
Educational background: First Class Honours in Art and Design (Furniture Specialization) Leicester University UK 1969. Post Graduate MA in Interior Design, Leicester 1971. Senior RYA Dinghy Instructor June 2005.

Along with my artist friend, Patricia Al Fakhri, I entered the establishment of The Majlis Gallery through a robust door. Our short steps took us to a clear-cut space opening to the blue afternoon sky. Around us, the architectural enframement was continuous, being the same from left to right. The assembly of the rooms shared with me the roots of the place, and enlivened me thoroughly to illustrate, one more time, the history of The Majlis Gallery.

The Majlis Gallery is something else! To express it in a ready single phrase, I would describe it as a special, complete work of creation. Notably, Alison Collins narrated to us with a sense of absolute clarity and pride how from her family drawing room she began the business of promoting art in Dubai. In 1976, Alison came to Dubai, representing a U.K company as an Interior Designer and Furniture Designer. In no time, Alison felt totally right in her new environment. She says, the place was so welcoming that she embarked on her own in no time to set up an independent line of work. The Majlis Gallery was thus born in 1979. Julian Barrow, a British artist was the first man whose work was displayed and successfully sold. There was no looking back after that.

As we went around from room to room, sighting sculptures, paintings, furniture, jewelry, books – I was still influenced with the part when the site was the home of the Collins family for good many years, that is to say, between 1978-1988. Situated at Bastakiya Roundabout, The Majlis Gallery finds an added position by being included in the heritage zone of the sprightly city, Dubai. Definitely, for lovers of art, history and heritage – a huge relief is that The Majlis escaped demolition as did the rest of Bastakiya.

Alison picks out art-works which impact her emotionally – that is the basic rule which guides her perception. There is a balance between serenity and vitality; the pure style of Alison is how to capture the heart of the viewers and win the artists – something that can only happen with the desire to be original. The Majlis Gallery displays works of Emirati and International artists. The flashpoints of our conversation showed from the beginning to the end that Alison is surely and securely influenced by art for art’s sake. The result of her beliefs executes a sense of straight forward satisfaction in whatever she is accomplishing. Chuni Shah, an Indian lady from Baroda (India) is her business partner. Unlike many business relationships, theirs has mutually flourished through the 20 years of association.

With her zest and talent, Alison gets the freedom to divide her time between The Majlis Gallery and Helford River Children’s Sailing Trust - UK. While in UK, Alison gives time to children from deprived areas and children with Special Educational Needs. As she is the Principal, supervising the features of how these children can learn to row and sail – Alison looks like someone who brings wider fruits for society.

Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. Coming to the UAE in 1976.

Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. I am so totally happy with my lot in life that travelling in my imagination through books is enough. That way I can transport myself wherever I want, whenever I want.

Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. Quite simply good health for my immediate family and friends and worldwide a greater understanding, tolerance and care between all the fellow inhabitants of this earth.

For further information, check website: http://www.themajlisgallery.com/ and http://www.hrcst.org.uk/

Geeta Chhabra

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