In 2006 I landed in Abu Dhabi, excited but also nervous about continuing my expat journey in this Arabic coast town.

As I stepped outside, I was greeted by a lot of sunshine and the extremely mixed architecture of the city. I marveled at the towering skyscrapers and the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf. I felt a sense of excitement and anticipation as I set out to explore my new surroundings. I always thought that the rush of immigrants diving for pearls back in the 19th century and the rush of expats for jobs in the 21st century shared a lot of similarities.

The theme of pearl diving has been a popular subject in fine art, particularly in painting, for centuries. In the Western world, pearl diving is often depicted as a luxurious and romantic activity associated with wealth and privilege. Paintings often feature serene, idyllic scenes of pearl divers in pristine waters, surrounded by exotic marine life and lush tropical landscapes.

In the Middle East, however, the depiction of pearl diving in fine art is often more realistic and gritty.

Pearl diving and gold-digging rushes were two distinct economic activities that emerged in different parts of the world in the 19th century. Both were labor-intensive and had a significant impact on local economies and cultures, but gold rushes were generally more globally significant and less dangerous than pearl diving.

The activity is shown as a challenging and dangerous occupation, requiring great skill and endurance. Paintings often depict pearl divers in harsh and unforgiving environments, such as the arid Arabian desert or the rough waters of the Persian Gulf. These works often focus on the physical and mental strength required for pearl diving and the cultural significance of this tradition in Middle Eastern societies.

Despite these differences, both Western and Middle Eastern art share a common appreciation for the natural beauty of pearls and the unique cultural practices surrounding pearl diving. From the opulent depictions of the Western world to the more raw and authentic portrayal of the Middle East, the theme of pearl diving continues to inspire and captivate artists and viewers alike.

Diver (finalized Dec 2021) - (69 x 90 cm) Acrylic and uni paint marker on canvas
Diver (finalized Dec 2021) - (69 x 90 cm) Acrylic and uni paint marker on canvas
Divers (finalized Oct 2021) - (140 x 100 cm) Acrylic and uni paint marker on canvas

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