UAE | Heritage and Culture

Beautiful People brings smiles to many in Dubai

When Robert Wolff, co-founder of Beautiful People - an international Dutch organisation promoting creative artists with special needs - bought a painting showing extraordinary talent, what surprised him was that the artist is a person with special needs.

  • By Fatma Salem, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 22:41 April 24, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
  • Special needs children creating artwork during the art competition at Jam Jar art gallery.
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Dubai: When Robert Wolff, co-founder of Beautiful People - an international Dutch organisation promoting creative artists with special needs - bought a painting showing extraordinary talent, what surprised him was that the artist is a person with special needs.

Since then Robert has been determined to trace and concentrate on such creative hidden talents.

"[People with special needs] are generously compensated by God, and gifted with great talents that are clearly seen in their art ... their non-verbal messages are effortlessly shown through the sincere feelings evident in their framed paintings," Wolff said.

"I realised then that I have to take an active role to involve such hidden significant talent and help to merge special needs people within society, knowing that their art would result in worldwide acclaim," Wolff said.

The international Dutch organisation promotes creative artists with special needs and enables them to independently develop their artistic potential and presents their work worldwide. It extended its activities to include Dubai after its observable success in Holland, Switzerland and Belgium. They adopt the concept of an urban "do it yourself" painting studio and art gallery, and start a non-profit organisation to encourage artists with special needs.

Wolff said that the project was made to merge people with special needs with the daily activities of life, so they can practice them under the umbrella of their art and to love what they do.

"The artists are given the opportunity to work in coffee business, we promote their art by printing it on mugs, cups, plates and coffee machines and sell it worldwide to get the artists known internationally. Profits would be paid to the permanent venue which will be totally equipped with up to date art studio - that's what we are currently looking forward to having in Dubai," Wolff continued.

Bee Tan, a Singaporean mother of a special needs artist, said: "My daughter Emily has Autism, she is 15 years old. I came from Singapore two years ago and I was searching for an art centre for special needs. Then I found Start [a charity organization] that provides art for special needs students - I immediately enrolled Emily at the centre.

"The excellent thing is that the centre brings art trainers to assist, guide and ensure the quality of the courses. I highly appreciate such [an] opportunity because such events give kids the basis to take a confident role, and actively act in society. And most importantly they are extremely happy of such attention," she said.

Karen, mother of James - an artist with special needs, said: "I'm very happy; such events bring him a lot of confidence and joy and makes him feel he is valuable. My son has another talent in singing - he can recall any song once he has heard it, and he [has participated] in many musical events such as musical auditions of high school."

"I take this opportunity to appreciate the organisers' efforts and such events would be a reference to be proud of for the artists with special needs. And the most crucial aim is to lift up their morale and give them confidence," she said.

James, 21 year-old artist with special needs - and Karen's son, said his favourite subjects to paint are people and nature. "I've [been] attached to art since I was kid, ... and I look forward to taking part in similar events in the future," he said.

Jam Jar: Watercolour sessions

Beautiful People is conducting five watercolour painting sessions, titled Creative Tuesdays, at the Jam Jar art gallery.

The paintings will be displayed at the week-long international H2O art exhibition to be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dubai from October 31.

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