Winston Churchill’s painting of Marrakesh sells for $11.5 million

Winston Churchill’s painting of Marrakesh sells for $11.5 million
“Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” was painted by Sir Winston Churchill painted in 1943. (AFP)
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Updated 04 March 2021

Winston Churchill’s painting of Marrakesh sells for $11.5 million

Winston Churchill’s painting of Marrakesh sells for $11.5 million

LONDON: A painting of Marrakesh by Britain’s famed wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, owned by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, smashed expectations to sell for $11.5 million at auction in London on Monday.

Churchill, a keen artist, took inspiration from the Moroccan city and painted “The Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” oil work during a World War II visit in 1943.

He gave the finished article to fellow wartime leader, US president Franklin Roosevelt.

Auction house Christie’s called it “Churchill’s most important work.”

“Aside from its distinguished provenance, it is the only landscape he mad”  during the war, it added.




The work eventually found its way into the hands of actress Angelina Jolie, who recently put it up for sale. (AFP)

The work eventually found its way into the hands of actress Angelina Jolie, who recently put it up for sale.

After frenzied bidding, much of it carried out over the phone, the gavel eventually came down at $11.5 million, smashing the pre-sale expectations of $2.09 to $3.49 million. 

Two more of his paintings also went under the hammer, with the three works together fetching $13.09 million.

A career army officer before entering politics, Churchill started to paint relatively late, at the age of 40.

His passion for the translucent light of Marrakesh, far from the political storms and drab skies of London, dates back to the 1930s when most of Morocco was a French protectorate.

He went on to make six visits to the North African country over the course of 23 years.

“Here in these spacious palm groves rising from the desert the traveller can be sure of perennial sunshine... and can contemplate with ceaseless satisfaction the stately and snow-clad panorama of the Atlas Mountains,” he wrote in 1936 in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.




Churchill took inspiration from the Moroccan city and painted “The Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” oil work during a World War II visit in 1943. (AFP)

He would set up his easel on the balconies of the grandiose La Mamounia hotel or the city’s Villa Taylor, beloved by the European jet set of the 1970s.

It was from the villa, after a historic January 1943 conference in Casablanca with Roosevelt and France’s Charles de Gaulle, that he painted what came to be regarded as his finest work, of the minaret behind the ramparts of the Old City, with mountains behind and tiny colourful figures in front.

“You cannot come all this way to North Africa without seeing Marrakesh,” he is reputed to have told Roosevelt. “I must be with you when you see the sun set on the Atlas Mountains.”

A newspaper photograph taken at the time shows the two wartime Allied leaders admiring the sunset.

After the US delegation had left, Churchill stayed on an extra day and painted the view of the Koutoubia Mosque framed by the mountains.

He sent it to Roosevelt for his birthday.

“This is Churchill’s diplomacy at its most personal and intense,” said Christie’s head of modern British and Irish art, Nick Orchard.

“It is not an ordinary gift between leaders. This is soft power, and it is what the special relationship is all about.”

A second Churchill landscape, “Scene in Marrakesh,” painted on his first visit to Morocco in 1935, earlier sold for $2.6 million.

That was painted while on a stay at Mamounia, where he marvelled at the “truly remarkable panorama over the tops of orange trees and olives,” in a letter to his wife Clementine.

Churchill’s painting of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral also sold, fetching $1.5 million.


Cairo International Film Festival announces 2021 dates

Lebanese actress Nour poses on the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 41st edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). AFP
Lebanese actress Nour poses on the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 41st edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). AFP
Updated 13 April 2021

Cairo International Film Festival announces 2021 dates

Lebanese actress Nour poses on the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 41st edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). AFP

DUBAI:The 43rd edition of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) is set to take place from Dec. 1-10, 2021, it was announced this week.

Egyptian film producer Mohamed Hefzy, president of the Cairo International Film Festival, said in a released statement: “Film Festivals have found a way to adapt and survive, acting as a lifeline for films and filmmakers that have been affected and challenged by the pandemic, including such threats as disrupted productions, and the closure of theatres throughout the world. Very few festivals managed to hold a physical edition, and we are proud to say that Cairo was one of them, setting the bar for an even more successful physical edition this year.”

This year’s festival will also offer prizes to 15 film projects.

“The festival’s programming team and management are thrilled by the challenge that this upcoming edition offers, and we are eager to present a diverse and rich lin0eup of films and a selection worthy of the festival’s audience that has come to expect more in terms of quality and surprises year after year,” added Hefzy.

“During the last three years we did strive to realize our fullest ambitions and utmost success in our offering of programming, and in the various support platforms offered to professionals by Cairo Industry Days, including the Cairo Film Connection which last year offered prizes valued at nearly $250,000 to 15 very different quality projects.”

As with the previous three editions, the festival will also feature the industry-focused Cairo Industry Days and its Cairo Film Connection co-financing event.

Last year’s edition featured more than 95 films from over 40 countries.

Despite challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including 50 percent less capacity due to social distancing, the festival sold 30,000 tickets while 200 international guests also attended in 2020. 

CIFF is not only the region’s oldest and largest annual film festival, but also the only internationally accredited one in the Middle East and Africa.

In 2019, the cinematic event also became the first Arab film festival to sign the 5050×2020 gender equality pledge, committing to empowering women and increasing transparency about issues of gender disparity in the Middle Eastern film industry.

That same year, CIFF achieved Oscar-qualifying film festival status in the Short Film category, becoming the only festival in North Africa to join Cannes, Venice, Sundance, and other prestigious events in this recognition.


Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 

Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 
Updated 13 April 2021

Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 

Instagram partners with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on Ramadan stickers 

DUBAI: Social media platform Instagram has teamed up with Bahraini artist Hala Al-Abbasi on three new stickers for Ramadan that were released on Monday.

The first sticker is an illustration of a mosque against the backdrop of star and a crescent. The second picture is a visual of tea and dates to represent Ramadan traditions. The last image is also an illustration of a crescent and stars. 

According to Instagram Design’s account: “Hala Al-Abbasi, an illustrator in Bahrain, was inspired by her favorite aspects of the holiday, and chose to reflect on the ‘beautiful moments that we share together.’” 

“Hala hopes that her stickers will be used throughout Ramadan to mark moments of celebration, from greetings to special suhoors and iftars, all the way to celebrating Eid,” the design-focused account added. 

To use the stickers, you will need to open the Instagram Story tray and add your favorite sticker to your story. 

Instagram/@haluulie

In celebration of the Ramadan, Instagram has added a feature that allows you to see stories with these stickers from people you follow all in a shared story.

Al-Abbasi took to her account to share her excitement for the collaboration. “OMG I DID RAMADAN STICKERS!! THEY ARE FINALLY OUT (sic),” she shared in her stories.

Instagram/@haluulie

“ENJOYED every process of creating these cute stickers for you guys! So you can use them as much as you can during your daily routine in Ramadan (sic),” the designer added. 


Bella Hadid fronts Fendi’s latest collection

Bella Hadid graces the Fendi limited-edition capsule collection. Supplied
Bella Hadid graces the Fendi limited-edition capsule collection. Supplied
Updated 13 April 2021

Bella Hadid fronts Fendi’s latest collection

Bella Hadid graces the Fendi limited-edition capsule collection. Supplied

DUBAI: This week, British designer Kim Jones unveiled a limited-edition capsule for Rome-based brand Fendi and tapped part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid to front the campaign.

The 23-year-old is joined by fellow model Lila Moss in the lookbook photos. The catwalk stars are seen in elegant draped white satin gowns, form-fitting black dresses, crisp cotton shirting, ballerina slippers embossed with Karligraphy beaded monograms and knee-high satin boots that make up the capsule.

When it comes to the accessories, new iterations of the Baguette and Peekaboo handbags have been added to the line, which are either accented with pearls or boast prints influenced by the Bloomsbury Group — a 20th century group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists —and their Sussex home, Charleston House. 

Bella Hadid graces the Fendi limited-edition capsule collection. Supplied

Inspired by the legacy of the influential literary cohort, the Bloomsbury Group and Virginia Woolf’s novel “Orlando,” the capsule will be exclusively available for only two weeks at select boutiques around the world starting on April 15.

The British designer was announced as the new artistic director of Fendi, seven months after the passing of the late Karl Lagerfeld, in September. He assumed his new role while remaining at the creative helm of Dior Men.

Jones presented his debut collection as artistic director of Fendi in January 2021 in Paris during Haute Couture Week.

Bella Hadid graces the Fendi limited-edition capsule collection. Supplied

For the Spring 2021 couture show, the designer invited the modeling world’s brightest stars to bring his clothes to life, including Dutch-Palestinian Bella Hadid.  

Hadid featured in the video-streamed show in a diaphanous cape. Moss also starred in the show, alongside her mother, iconic supermodel Kate Moss. For the presentation, Lila wore a beaded sheer gown over a cream bodysuit, while her 47-year-old mother was dressed in a silver maxi dress with capelet sleeves.

Hadid’s involvement with Fendi’s latest capsule collection comes just after she appeared in French maison Mugler’s fashion film, which debuted recently on the brand’s Instagram and YouTube accounts.

The short film showed Hadid, alongside other models Hunter Shafer and Irina Shayk, jumping and flipping their way down the runway in death-defying stunts.


Fast-fashion website PrettyLittleThing makes its debut in Saudi Arabia

Fast-fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing launched an Arabic version of its website in Saudi Arabia. Supplied
Fast-fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing launched an Arabic version of its website in Saudi Arabia. Supplied
Updated 13 April 2021

Fast-fashion website PrettyLittleThing makes its debut in Saudi Arabia

Fast-fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing launched an Arabic version of its website in Saudi Arabia. Supplied

DUBAI: Popular online shopping destination PrettyLittleThing has just landed in Saudi Arabia. The e-commerce platform, beloved by It-girls and celebrities including Kourtney Kardashian, Hailey Bieber, Saweetie and Maya Jama, has launched an Arabic website in the Kingdom to cater to its growing Saudi market. 

“We are so excited to further propel our presence into the global scene and continue to acknowledge and empower the women of the GCC, by inspiring them to narrate their own stories in PrettyLittleThing,” said Umar Kamani, Owner and CEO at PrettyLittleThing in a released statement. 

The new platform features the retailer’s ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes and accessories. Supplied

The new platform aims to facilitate the online shopping experience of shoppers based in the Gulf country by introducing an all-Arabic website.

Boasting a selection of the UK-based retailer’s ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes, accessories and highly sought-after celebrity collaborations,  the online platform offers Saudi shoppers simplified access to the fast-fashion brand’s products with a tap of a button. 

This move further bolsters the brand’s digital portfolio. PrettyLittleThing already has an online presence in a number of countries, including the UAE.


Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream

Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream
Updated 13 April 2021

Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream

Oscar-nominated ‘Minari’ depicts immigrant family’s American dream

CHENNAI: Minari is a kind of vegetable that grows in the East Asian wilds and is treasured for its medicinal properties and detoxifying effect. In the film directed by Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” takes on a mysteriously providential sign, indicating that good things can come from the soil.

We watch how the movie’s protagonist Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) insists on a livelihood from his land. While “Minari” was unfairly given a thumbs down in this year’s Golden Globes and disqualified in the Best Picture (drama) race, it flourished in the Oscars with a nomination in several categories: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.

Yeun plays a Korean immigrant in America, a place he believes to be a “garden of Eden.”

Set in the 1980s, the story tells of how the US is not quite the land of honey and milk he thought it would be. Jacob and his wife Monica (Han Ye-hi) move from the stability of California, where she struggled in her job at a chicken hatchery, to the beautiful, expansive Arkansas. Jacob and his family, including his daughter Anne (Noel Cho) and son David (Alan Kim), may be stuck in a trailer for a home, but the 500 acres of land that come with it are sheer joy for the man, who plans to grow Korean vegetables for his cousins who miss their home cuisine.

Monica is less exuberant, given the fact that life in her new home is a lot harder than what it was in California. David is strained by a cardiac problem and the nearest hospital is an hour’s drive away, worrying his mother. But Jacob relentlessly pushes ahead with his dream, and even invites Monica’s elderly mother Soon-ja (Korean screen legend Youn Yuh-jung) to take care of the children while the couple are away at work.

Chung peppers his work with delightful incidents, although there is understandable tension and disappointment when Jacob finds it hard to strike water for his land. But with the kids’ grandmother playing a pacifist, calming frayed nerves and acting as a bridge between Korea and the US by introducing some traditional Asian values, the small family ploughs on.

Chung weaves into the script his own experiences growing up in an Arkansas farm in the 1980s, and gives it a pleasurably languid feel. Lachlan Milne’s camera captures the soothing radiance of the green environment with the glowing rays of the sun beating down. Emile Mosseri’s score adds to this calming effect with a score that has a lovely old-world charm. Yeun’s intelligent piece of acting, and Han’s performance as a worrying mother with Kim adding the mischievous element, ensures that “Minari” is a must-watch for all who believe that cinema must be more than just a restless string of images and drama.