Youth art in Dubai

The current exhibition at thejamjar in Al Quoz showcases up-and-coming artists aged 16 to 18

‘Beyond the Surface’ by Dominique Gomez, 17, Jumeirah College
‘Beyond the Surface’ by Dominique Gomez, 17, Jumeirah College
Rachael Brown
Rachael Brown
‘Turn the Oven On’ by Mae Martin, 18, Jumeirah College
‘Turn the Oven On’ by Mae Martin, 18, Jumeirah College
‘Cry Me a River’ by Ksenia Matafnoor, 16, Repton Dubai
‘Cry Me a River’ by Ksenia Matafnoor, 16, Repton Dubai

New show Beyond the Surface at thejamjar features the works of 15 young artists, all aged between 16 and 18. Curator Rachael Brown devised the idea for the group show after visiting school end-of-year exhibitions. ‘I was overwhelmed by the standard and maturity at these shows, which are mostly only seen by the school community, so I decided to create another platform for the pieces in a professional gallery setting, and in the environment of a group show.’

Many of the pieces are also up for sale. ‘These works are priced around the Dhs1,250 mark, so you’re getting original, one-off art for the same price you’d pay for a print,’ explains Rachael. ‘That said, if you buy one, you have to really like it – the artists are young and there’s a chance they won’t pursue a career as an artist [so their work may not appreciate]. Also, it’s still up in the air whether all the works are for sale: the students were creating these pieces for their GCSEs and A-levels, and when you’re that involved with your work, it’s often hard to come to terms with the idea of your art as a commodity.’

Editor's picks

‘Turn the Oven On’ by Mae Martin, 18, Jumeirah College
Martin’s Stepford Wives-inspired works feature photography, threadwork and  painting. They’re wry and refreshingly lacking in the heavy-handedness of many young artists’ pieces.

‘Beyond the Surface’ by Dominique Gomez, 17, Jumeirah College
This piece is the strongest in the exhibition – its clown-like quality explores the dangers behind pre-teens presenting themselves as adults. The painting techniques are strong and the collage is well thought through – the background is composed of children’s stories, and the girl is made up of clippings from women’s magazines such as Grazia.

‘Cry Me a River’ by Ksenia Matafnoor, 16, Repton Dubai
This well-executed collage is a homage to pop art’s Lichtenstein. Visually striking, it’s also brave for such a young artist to tackle such a large canvas.

Beyond the Surface continues at thejamjar until August 31.

Get a foot in the door

Rachael Brown, special projects manager at thejamjar and curator of the show, gives budding artists tips on how to get noticed.

1 Be professional.
‘The biggest thing is motivation and perseverance – letting people know that you have a commitment to a project. For a gallery to show an interest, you have to show that you’re hard-working and motivated.’

2 Present your work well.
‘Create a diverse portfolio and be your own biggest advocate and publicist.’

3 Participate in workshops.
‘Explore different mediums: you may be a painter, but after experimenting you may discover you have more of an affinity with print-making. Receiving guidance at workshops will also help to mature your portfolio.’ Try Tashkeel, which holds workshops on subjects such as Photoshop, textile dyeing and figurative drawing (, or Ductac, which offers classes in pottery, classical sculpture and more (

4 Find a mentor.
‘Find someone to bounce your ideas off. This can be a teacher, another artist, a gallerist or even a peer.’

5 Engage in the scene.
‘Go to every art event possible – you’ll not only meet like-minded people, but you’ll also get your name out there. Lantian Xie began by coming to the Mahmovies! events, he introduced himself, and now he’s an artist in residence at thejamjar.’

6 Do an internship.
‘By interning, you’ll also learn the art scene inside out.’ Try art charity START, which welcomes volunteers to help at its workshops (, or Art Dubai, which runs an intern programme (

Also, city tour The Art Bus always needs guides – the next tour will take place in November (

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