Driftwood turns into exquisite frames and forms as four Abu Dhabi-based artists flaunt their creativity in an exhibition of art, marquetry, sculpture, furniture and photography.

The four men who call themselves The Exhibitionists are holding an art show at the Delma Corner in the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation.

Made in Abu Dhabi, a diverse exhibition of art, is organised by Hemisphere Design Studio and Gallery which promotes artists and craftspeople living and working in the emirates.

Abu Dhabi-based artists Fabrizio Saiu, Michael Flook, Richard Singer and Gerard Balp figure in the exhibition.

Gallery owner Ruth Burrows says, "I noticed they all had a common creative interest and suggested they have a group exhibition. They have really thrown themselves into the preparation and the show promises to be a unique and interesting mix of work."

Burrows says the artists "have a great respect for the local culture which shows in their work, for example, by using wood from local trees and reclaimed from the beach."

Wood into art

Gerard Balp turns driftwood into frames and tables.

Originally trained as a furniture restorer and antiques dealer, most of his working life has been spent restoring antiques and creating bespoke kitchens and pastiches of antiques, praised as distinctive and unique by interior design magazines.

Some of his more unusual items have found homes with people including European royalty and pop musicians.

Sculptor Michael Flook's early years in England instilled an appreciation of history and craftsmanship.

Moving to Canada introduced him to the splendour of the Canadian wilderness.

"His sculptures, combining his love of history and the vibrancy of wood, have evolved into a unique neoclassical form," says Burrows.

Flook's carvings range from tiny to those weighing several tons. Preferring wood for its warm, natural qualities, he also sculpts in stone, metal, fibreglass, bone and leather.

The third member of the group, Fabrizio Saiu, first started working with wood in his native Italy.

Specialising in the restoration of historical buildings, he also designs and makes custom furniture and objects using marquetry — using the grain, figure and colour of thin veneers of wood to produce pictures and designs.


As a teenager, Richard Singer began taking photographs with a mail-order camera.

His experience grew and photography became part of his work when he took crime scene and surveillance photos for a Canadian police agency.

He has recorded photographic excursions throughout the world.

Now retired, he came to the UAE last year, with his wife, and decided to record his experiences here.

"Being new to the emirates allows me to see things from a fresh perspective. I take the camera with me whenever I venture out. The lighting is amazing in the desert and the photographic opportunities are endless," he says.