HIGHLIGHTS from “Inhabited Deserts” in Dubai

“Chara Sands” by John R. Pepper. (Supplied)
Updated 18 December 2018

HIGHLIGHTS from “Inhabited Deserts” in Dubai

DUBAI: John R. Pepper’s ‘Inhabited Deserts,’ is showcasing at The Empty Quarter in Dubai until January 27.

“Chara Sands”
In his artist’s statement for this exhibition, the Italian photographer explains that merely capturing the beauty of the desert was not enough. “My goal,” he writes, “has been to use the desert as a painter uses a virgin white canvas … I attempt to find the symbiosis between the landscape before me and the imagery buried within me.”

Here, Pepper captures an anthropomorphic figure in the stones of the South Sinai in Egypt. “Suddenly the rocks, these non-living elements, were transformed into the opposite: living, expressive, vibrant figures,” he writes. Pepper’s photographs are taken using a “small Leica, 35mm lens and Ilford film.”

“Dasht –e Lut”
Many of Pepper’s desert landscapes are so seemingly empty that they approach the abstract. But in his essay on the exhibition, Kirill Petrin writes: “Who said that deserts are uninhabited? Pepper’s work populates them with our thoughts, our dreams. It’s up to you, these photos seem to say. It’s entirely up to you to take the voyage out, and linger, and decide.”


Where We Are Going Today: Shatllah

Updated 22 March 2019

Where We Are Going Today: Shatllah

  • Shatllah’s prices are reasonable, while the assistants are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful

Do you need to add a little life and color to your surroundings? Houseplants are often said to be a source of positivity, and Shatllah has taken this concept to the next level.

Forget the idea of a lonely looking plant in a boring beige pot; this shop adds beautifully designed containers and creative touches that turn them into delightful decorations that are almost works of art. One in particular that caught my eye was designed to look like a tiny garden, complete with a miniature table and chair.

Shatllah’s creations make for perfect gifts, which is how I discovered the shop, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra’a district, while looking for a present for a friend who loves houseplants. I was so impressed with its wares that I ended up buying some for myself as well. After all, who would not rather have a living plant decorating their home rather than artificial flowers or other fake items?

Shatllah’s prices are reasonable, while the assistants are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. They are more than happy to offer advice on picking the perfect plant and how to take care of it when you get it home.