“I have travelled to the richest cities and poorest ghettos around the world and in these places witnessed beauty and tragedy.” Vera Vernerova
Last week, I was invited to the inaugural art exhibition held at the trendy Urban Bites restaurant located on Airport Road here in Abu Dhabi. The venue’s exposed white brick walls provide the perfect backdrop (think trendy Shoreditch gallery vibe) for local artists to exhibit their work and be part of a free public community art initiative.
This first exhibition features the photographs of the very talented photographer Vera Vernerova, who has lived in the Middle East for nine years. She has travelled the world in her day job as an air hostess and through her intense love of photography has taken some amazing snapshots of humanity. The photographs capture people from all levels of society and cultures through her artistic eye and camera lens and Vernerova’s work has been nominated for ‘Best Photo of the Day’ by National Geographic, the well-known publication that features geography, history, and world culture
“My journey has given me the precious gift of love and revealed the height and depth of human behavior and I am grateful for all these experiences.”
“My photography reveals the beauty of innocent youth, the compassion of a loving mother, the tragedy of a child burdened by poverty.”
Unfortunately Vernerova was not present at the event as she now resides in Saudi Arabia, but her full catalogue of photographs are available to view and purchase online. Visit her website here and her blog here
As well as launching the Urban Gallery events to support local artists, Urban Bites already supports local musicians at its Khalidiya store’s regular Metronome music nights. Metronome is held every third Saturday of the month and features live sets from local singers and musicians in the free event open to the public and is also broadcast live on White Cube Radio.
Utilising the blank walls at the restaurant while giving local artists free exhibition space is both an excellent idea and a fantastic community project. The manager explained to me that they propose to have a new exhibition from a different artist every week and while I though that concept might be a tad ambitious, it will be a fantastic achievement to have an ever-changing space and I for one will be popping back regularly to see the new featured artists. Next on the agenda is local talents Yukti Agarwal and Mioara Cherki and new artists being actively encouraged to come forward and use the space as a platform to exhibit their talent.
Urban Bites, which reminded me of the ‘Pret a Manger ‘concept I’m familiar with in London, offers customers ready-to-eat good food (which I was lucky enough to sample at the event) and their menu is packed full of options offering the best ingredients for the diner on the go or one who wants to sit and relax a while. Everything is made fresh daily and the menu offers nutritious produce for those conscious of eating healthily and even calorie counting (the eldest goes there everyday for his work lunch). There’s a create your own salad bar as well as a selection of wraps, sandwiches, soups, bagels, bakery goods, meats, cheeses, pastas and soba noodles. They also serve a range of delicious juices and hot drinks including coffee by the very popular RAW Coffee Company. You can also order online for takeaway delivery, click here for the online order details and menu.
If you like good food and art then this is the perfect combination for you. For more information visit the Urban Bites website here or on Facebook here. Vernerova’s photographs will be on display until Tuesday 17th March (tomorrow) and the next Metronome music night will take place at the Khalidiya store located in Shining Towers from 6pm on Saturday 21st March. Anyone wishing to find out more about showcasing their artistic talents at Urban Bites should email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. All the photographs featured are the work of Vera Vernerova.