hat tip-Margo I.

‘Pictures always speak louder then words’
MOHAMAD KADRY (Staff Reporter)
Khaleej Times City Times

15 May 2008
MARION MARQUAND has been an artist her entire life, but she is exhibiting her work for the first time in many years after being compelled by some of the environmental and societal issues she sees the UAE facing today.

A country at a crossroads between vaulting development and maintaining the past, Marion has quietly observed the UAE’s rapid growth and believes it comes at a great cost.


  While her voice is soft and soothing, it commands attention.  The native New Zealander has taught art around the world, and has travelled throughout most of the Middle East observing its deep heritage and culture. 


  “When I went to university I wanted to study art, but like many people my parents persuaded me that there was no money in it. I trained to be a teacher instead,” she recalls.


  “I discovered that I love teaching art. It’s wonderful to prove to people that they can draw and paint, and to see the joy when they see they actually can. I guess I’ve been giving away my skills and ideas for years and years.”


  “It’s difficult to be an artist plus being a wife and mother. It’s a very selfish occupation, because when you go off into your studio you forget everything else.”


  Devoting her life to helping others realise their true potential on canvas, Marion neglected her own passions for many years.


  “Once I started painting again it felt like I had reclaimed a part of myself, it’s like I was being who I wanted to be many years ago… it’s like having another identity in between being a wife and a teacher,” she says.  


Creating awareness through art


Finally after years in Dubai, she decided to take up the brush and release some of her emotional ailments. Her exhibit, aptly named ‘Questions’, sends a powerful message concerning some of society’s biggest issues including feminism, the environment, and heritage.


  “Quite a few of the pieces are comments on things I feel sad about that are happening in Dubai and the UAE… so that’s why I wanted to make paintings about them. I think it was Socrates who said that the best way to teach people is to ask questions,” she says.


  Rather than vocally criticising her frustrations towards some of the problems she sees today, she has put them to canvas, resulting in what can only be described as compelling.


  “I’m a guest in this country, it is not my country. It’s not for me to push things, just to say how they are. If what I’m saying is just going to antagonise people then they won’t see the message… I just want people to be aware.”


  While understanding that development and growth are inevitable here, Marion sees things disappearing before her eyes. In her painting named ‘Mountains’, she explores the true cost of progress.


  “I got very upset in the mountains in Fujeirah, because they’re blowing up whole mountains,” she says.


  “Another thing I feel very sad about is the old villages and old towns that people don’t want to live in anymore, which I understand. But it is part of the heritage of this country and part of who the people were, and if they fall down they are gone forever, and if you make them again they are artificial,” she adds.


Environmental issues


An avid camper, Marion enjoys being out in the desert wilderness in what she describes as breathtaking. But even more saddening for the wife and mother of two are some of the environmental issues facing the nation today.


  “I go out to the desert quite a lot because I think the landscape here is so beautiful. I discovered that many camels, sheep, and goats die from eating plastic bags because the bags go into their stomach… and they starve to death literally. That makes me feel so sad, so I went around the desert taking pictures of these dead animals because I wanted to make paintings about them,” she says.


  “Pictures always speak louder then words. They’re instant, they don’t have to be deciphered… I want people to become more conscious of all the issues I raise.”  


Gentle spirit


A true conscious activist in every sense, Marion’s gentle spirit allows her to see what many of us neglect. Her love for this nation, its people, its heritage, and its landscape are what truly motivates her to question some of the policies implemented today. Rather than lecture about consciousness, she would rather people be moved enough to take action.


  An artist for so long, it is no wonder that her words flow out like poetry. Her presence is so inviting and her mind so clear. Her talent is not that she paints beautiful pictures, but rather that her perception is so clear and unobstructed.


  “If I can express these things then I don’t have to carry them anymore. Any negative package that you carry in your life, you must find its source and express it.”


  “My aim in life is to be completely serene, and if I’m completely serene then I can be helpful to other people and love other people without expecting things in return.  Spiritual knowledge helps me deal with life,” she says.


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