Originally from Wales, Marion Eele is now living in Amman, Jordan. She studied Arabic and History at SOAS in London, although her real passion has always been art. She is the editor of Trendesign magazine, an art, architecture and design monthly published in Jordan, where she makes sure to snaffle all the articles about art for herself. She also works with Q0DE, an artist’s agency that supports emerging talent from Jordan and across the Middle East.
If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?
I used to have a book called Katie’s Picture Show, about a naughty and inquisitive little girl who visited the National Gallery in London and discovered that she could climb inside the paintings and interact with their subjects. One of them was Tiger in a Tropical Storm by Henri Rousseau and I have always thought that this would be a wonderful place to explore.
Who inspires you and why? An artist, a family member, someone current or historical?
As a child I was inspired by my older sister (though I would never tell her so, because sibling rivalry is real…) She was very creative, and even from a young age would do these little drawings that were so simple, but really funny. She made me want to start drawing and painting and it made me appreciate the creativity and art of others.
What are your cultural aspirations? What do you still want to see, do and achieve?
Middle Eastern art, despite its recent surge in popularity, is still widely misunderstood and belittled. It is reduced to either ancient calligraphy and illuminations, or a reflection of the area’s current socio-political situation, be it war, poverty or oppression. In realty, this art is wonderfully varied and diverse, and in failing to recognise this fact we deny Middle-Eastern artists the same right to self-expression as those in the West have. I want to increase the exposure of global audiences to Middle Eastern art in the hope that this will help to combat negative perceptions in the mainstream media.
What are your favourite cultural cities in the world and why?
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is a treasure-trove of cultural destinations. There are museums and galleries like the Baltic and the Discovery Museum, theatres and concert halls like the Sage and the Theatre Royal and a whole host of small independent music venues, comedy clubs and cinemas.
Istanbul is a cliché for a reason: it really does feel like East meets West. Aside from all the awe-inspiring historical monuments, I loved the three SALT art centres and Istanbul Modern. Then there are the art fairs (Contemporary Istanbul and Art International) and the Biennial, which I haven’t been lucky enough to visit but I have spent a lot of time drooling over online!
Everything about Amsterdam just seems to ooze laid-back cool and creativity. I can’t remember the names of the many little galleries that I stopped in while wandering around, and I’m even less sure that I could find them again, but they exist, and lie waiting to grab the unsuspecting passer-by.
What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it?
I am the editor of Trendesign Magazine, an art, architecture and design monthly based in Amman, Jordan. The link to the website is: http://trendesignmagazine.com/en/. I also work with Q0DE, an artist’s agency that supports up-and-coming talent from the region: www.facebook.com/q0deagency or www.q0de.com