Different Dialogues : Ms. Shelley Young

In conversation with Ms. Shelley Young - Art Historian in Dubai (U.A.E).
Educational background: Post-Graduate Diploma in the History of Art and Architecture from East Anglia University, U.K.
Bachelor of Arts Degree at Cape Town University.

When Shelley 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!” Shelley remembers that with an expression of delight. From the age of 16, Shelley 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, Shelley 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 Shelley 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 Shelley 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.

Shelley 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 Shelley and myself sat. With the seal of her knowledge, I understood the role of art historians; to preserve the clarity of her statements, Shelley 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 Shelley’s training as an art historian. She could virtually give the horoscope of the painting! By that I mean, Shelley explained to me the artists emotions, the advent of the particular work and how this specific work was modelled.

Shelley 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.

Shelley 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, Shelley’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 ShelleyYoung.

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.

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

Geeta Chhabra

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