New gallery Art London Dubai launches

Artist Darren Baker on painting the Queen

New gallery Art London Dubai launches
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A brand-new online art gallery has flung up it’s virtual shutters, and we’ve spoken to artist and co-founder Darren Baker to find out what’s on offer, and grill him about that time he painted the Queen...

What’s your story?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I can remember. Since graduating I have been awarded many honours and commissions in the artworks, beyond my wildest dreams, including meeting and painting Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace. I have been lucky to have this gift and worked hard always to develop it and also give back. I support The Prince’s Trust greatly among other worthy causes and now one of my aims in life is to help destigmatise mental health in society, after losing my sister Leanne in 2013.

Who is your favourite artist/inspiration and why?
I love the work of Vermeer, Caravaggio and Rembrandt, each different in their vision but all utterly determined in their vision and perfecting their art and seeking truth through it.

What inspired the collaboration between you and entrepreneur Jason Cook?
Art London Dubai was co-founded by myself and Jason Cook. It was Jason’s initial idea for the online gallery as he saw a gap for artists in Dubai, offering artwork other than purely Arabic themed and inspired. His expertise with finance and digital media and websites, combined with my knowledge and love of art is a great fit for this enterprise.

Which artists are you working with?
So many incredibly talented artists, all living and contemporary. From Clarissa James, to David Harper, to Anthony Lamb, to Elizabeth Grant and many others with more than 600 pieces currently listed on the platform. We’re really excited about an exclusive collection we’re launching soon with Hayden Kays whose work is collected by celebrities including Harry Styles and Chris Martin, to name just a few.

What inspires your own art?
Anything and everything. I am completely inspired by life and principally people, the energy and dynamic between people, love and passion. And I put this energy and passion into my work, I’m obsessed by emotion.

What was it like to paint The Queen?
It was an incredible honour and I was extremely nervous but she was wonderful at putting me at ease, as were all her staff present at the sitting and leading up to the meeting at Buckingham Palace. She was like the most adorable grandmother and so easy to talk to after all the formalities and it was difficult to get on with painting as we were chatting so much about various things. I think the Royal Family do an exceptional job for the UK and Commonwealth, and I am all for people and institutions that better our country, people and society and charities. I don’t class myself as royalist or any other label – I am merely all for individuals and institutions that do good and help humanity.

What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’m keeping stuff back for my book one day, but I did think I might be sent to The Tower of London when I switched off a socket accidentally at my sitting with HM The Queen in the yellow drawing room. I was charging my iPhone and didn’t read the label until too late... ‘under NO circumstances DO NOT TURN OFF this switch!’
www.artlondondubai.com.

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