Artsy Fun at Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

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Art Zone for Kids
Art Zone for Kids

We took a drive from Dubai to Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi today to check out the art exhibitions.

At the moment, Abu Dhabi Art is going on from November 16 to November 19. There are exhibits, workshops, talks, film screenings, book launches, and more.  According to the program description: Abu Dhabi Art, in its third edition, is an annual boutique platform for modern and contemporary art and design bringing together galleries from all four corners of the world.

It was my first time onto Saadiyat Island. It was a smooth drive from Dubai Marina, passing Yas Island (where the Formula 1 was held last weekend), through pretty mangrove lagoons and empty construction sites, (I could see the skyline of Abu Dhabi in the distant) finally arriving at Saadiyat. This island will be the future home of a Louvre and Guggenheim.

The museum structure was quite modern (although parking facilities were still a work-in-progress = parking in make-shift sand lots) – spacious, with white-washed walls and tons of natural lighting.

Emirati Expressions

The first gallery we visited was called Emirati Expressions which showcased Emirati identity through an exhibition of photographs by Emirati artists. There were some really cool photographs ranging from self-portraits to Dubai street scenes to something I can only describe as photographs 0f art-by-nature-by-woman.

Probably the most interesting was the Inside Out project by “JR” which involved a Photo Booth. Now this was no ordinary photo booth – it was probably two stories high and the size of a small apartment. You go into this booth, get your picture taken, it is then printed and ejected from a slit-like opening two stories up where you have to catch your larger-than-life photo as it is ejected and tumbling down the side of the booth.

Next, you take your photo (about the size of a movie poster) to a designated area within the cultural center and glue it to the wall. I know I am not explaining this amazing project very well so please take a look at the Inside Out website for a better understanding and where you can participate as well!

Next we headed over to the Art Zone which is an artsy area for children to create their own works of art.

Art Zone for Kids

For the very, very little ones there was a play area with Ikea toys:

Infant Play Area

We took Wee Scotch to exercise his creativity by painting on canvas. He was very enthusiastic about his painting project and of course ended up with paint all over himself and his dad.

Painting at Abu Dhabi Art

Look how talented he is! Unfortunately we couldn’t keep this as it was going to be part of a larger collage that will one day be installed in a public building. Please let me know if you happen to see it displayed one day.

Painting at Abu Dhabi Art 2

Then there was the Toddler Zone for age 3-5 years.

I wonder why there is a gap for the 2-3 year olds?

Art Zone for Kids

And these were the activities for the 6 – 9 year olds:

Art Zone for Kids

Art Zone for Kids

For the Juniors and Teens:

Art Zone for Kids

So as you can see there was a lot of interactive artsy fun for children.

And the best part? It was all free and the kids could take most of their artwork home.

Art Zone for Kids

We wanted to see more of the exhibits but Wee Scotch got a bit crazy and wouldn’t sit in his stroller so we ended up just leaving and headed back home.

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The drive from Dubai Marina was about 50 minutes. It was an easy drive on multi-lane highways – first onto Sheikh Zayad Road (E11) and then onto Sheikh Khalifa Highway (E12). Please click here for a map.

Please visit the Abu Dhabi Art website for more details and program information and/or “Like” the Saadiyat Cultural District’s Facebook Page.

Abu Dhabi Art 2011 is open to the public from November 16 – 19, 2011 at the Saadiyat Cultural District. So you have one more day to catch the exhibits and participate in Art Zone.

Emirati Expressions and the Photo Booth will run from October 9, 2011 – January 28, 2012. Visit the Abu Dhabi Art website for more information or call +971 02 6575800.

Inside Out is a global art project: Upload a portrait. Receive a poster. Paste it for the world to see! For more information or to particpate, please visit their webiste, “like” their Facebook page, or follow on Twitter via @InsideOutProj.

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