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Thu 13 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

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Artistic ascension – Success is sweet

The Art market in the GCC is estimated to be worth about 70 million dollars and growing all the time. Evidence of this was no less obtuse than at the recent SME Awards where the highly commended award for best new comer went to a rising star in the art world.

The Art market in the GCC is estimated to be worth about 70 million dollars and growing all the time. Evidence of this was no less obtuse than at the recent SME Awards where the highly commended award for best new comer went to a rising star in the art world.Third line galleries is a company rapidly gaining ground in the Middle East, building on its local reputation to firmly implant contemporary art in the middle eastern consciousness. Since its inception just over four years ago in the darker quarts of Al Quoz industrial estate, Third Line has reached out into the community; into education, infrastructure, funding and enterprise- and undeniable panache.

Today we speak to Sunny, the director of Third Line Galleries, enrapt about the company's win (highly commended-best competitor award) and overflowing with enthusiasm for the next stage in her plan for world domination.

We're seeing massive growth in the sector at the moment; not least by the number of art galleries and repositories that are appearing but by the volume of investment being channelled. How will you as a company, continue to grow and add value to this?

We will continue to do what we do best which is to keep providing the best support and exhibition space for artists, maintaining their interests and seeking new outlets for their work.

In Dubai there are some issues around the freedom of expression; issues that centre on the lack of it and the consequence of placing restrictions where in most societies there are none. Do you see this as something that frustrates or stimulates your artists and what if any, is the effect on art that is produced?

There are only really two artist that are actually from the UAE and live currently in Dubai so I do not regard this as an issue in my work, neither have I faced any calls to suppress or censor my artists. Any work that is controversial is treated as such but never questioned, nor does the desire to be particularly offensive really exist in the work I've seen here.

What changes would help the art market as it launches for take off and which initiatives have been particularly helpful?

More support from the government would be great with more programmes in the community, more education into art -the various kinds and the benefits it can have for the individual who undertakes it- as well as removing import tax on art. This is roughly 5 per cent which is quite high and were it to be brought in line with that enjoyed by other market sectors it would be a good thing. What conflicts did you hit upon as you were starting out and what do you see as the challenges faced now by Sme's?

Finding a space to set up was difficult at first. It was hard to get a license to operate as there was no official category for the registration of art galleries so it was hard to convey what we are all about.

There was also a lack of other companies like ours in the area and we definitely could have benefited from more discourse. We had to build up a database from scratch so we just had to go out and meet people. That's the advice I'd give to people now wishing to start up. Of course there are now Freezones which assist with matters such as visa, import duties and other related issues of investment and return.

How did you win this award and what has given you the edge?

Well the most obvious thing is that there aren't many people like us so we kind of a niche thing, having researched our market well and found it to be distinctly lacking. We are extremely dedicated to our artists and pay attention to all the finer details involved in nurturing their potential and making them sellable.

What trends do you see and what or who will we be seeing more of?

I think we'll be seeing more trade in western art as well as more western buyers hopefully. It would be nice to see more art in public spaces, events and initiatives; yes just more government initiatives and interaction with what we do.

What do you think is the main attraction for people investing in Art here?

Supporting a good investment and the fact that this is more ‘real' than has previously been appreciated in Dubai; that is to say - Art that is a personal response and not merely for decorative purposes.

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