PARIS: Welsh painter David Bellamy has released his latest book, “Arabian Light,” which features his sketches and watercolors of the region, along with historical facts and information on local customs.
The watercolorist — a frequent visitor to the Middle East — showcases the sights, both manmade and natural, of the Arab world, from the ancient ruins of Jordan and Lebanon to the tombs and minarets of Egypt and Oman.
Bellamy’s fascination with the Arab world began in 1963, when he was posted to Aden, Yemen, as part of his military service with the UK’s Royal Air Force.
“I just loved the environment,” he told Arab News. “I wasn’t in the military for very long — I realized that wasn’t my scene — but I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there, seeing dhows and meeting people. It was mind-blowing for me.”
Bellamy has been inspired by the Orientalist painting style that flourished in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. “I absolutely love their work and I’m very traditional and a bit of a romantic, really. That’s why I get so much out of studying their paintings,” he explained.
Bellamy uses watercolors for his work. “It’s a very transportable medium – you can take it up a mountain and out to sea. I’ve even done it on the back of a camel,” he said.
“It’s not easy for any newcomer. It takes quite a bit of time to get used to the techniques of watercolor. But once you know what you’re doing, it’s a lovely medium. You can put so much mood into it and capture the light very quickly.”
What Bellamy hopes to convey through the work in his book is the connections he established through his travels. “I always prefer to travel among the locals rather than in an air-conditioned tourist bus,” he said.
He had planned to publish this particular book for some time, he says, as he feels it can tell a different story of the Arab world.
“I wanted to show people that this was a place where the people are so interesting, kind, and hospitable. You can have a wonderful time engaging with them,” said Bellamy. “All the horrible things that happened in the past, like Iraq, upset us all. I wanted to give a more truthful idea of what the Middle East was like.”
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