Sadly I'll be leaving the UAE in a few weeks time to settle back in Australia. It's going to be a huge move for my husband and I after an absence of nearly 15 years from our homeland but one that I'm looking forward to as I'm reunited with my family and I start a new chapter of teaching and learning Hanji back in Adelaide, Australia.
|Sue Fine, Anna Bailey, Diana Johnson, Monica Sturgess, Tricia O'Shea, myself, Christina & Arlette Van Veerdegem|
Over the last few months here in RAK, and with the last of the Hanji classes winding down, the students had been thinking of what to do to as a final farewell before I leave. Diana piped up with, 'Why don't we have a Hanji Exhibition?'. I thought about it and very quickly decided that there couldn't be any better way to celebrate the classes than by getting everyone together and showcasing the students' amazing achievements. I ran it past a few people and they were excited at the idea so preparations began.
|Diana Johnson, myself, Niru Bhati|
There were lots of last minute 'finishing off of projects' that they wanted to display. The time came around very quickly and a few nights ago we held the much anticipated 1st RAK Hanji exhibition at the Ras Al Khaimah Sailing Club.
I can't tell you the excitement and pride I felt every time a student placed another piece of their work on the display tables. It was the best gift ever.
|Sue Fine & Diana Johnson unveiling Sue's Hanji pieces|
The club rooms began to fill up from around 5 pm onwards with people filing through to see the wonderful Hanji pieces on display. There were 'oohs' and 'ahs' all around as they seemed to come out of the woodwork, or is that cardboard, to see what Hanji was all about.
|Trcia O'Shea and her lamps hand painted by her husband Marius O'Shea|
Many of the students have been working in different classes and hadn't had the opportunity to meet or see their fellow students' work so they were able to ask questions of one another and to get ideas for their own future projects. Some approached me with last minute questions about how to continue making their own creative projects and at the same time we all promised to keep in touch wherever we moved to next.
|Cabinet by Suzy Jay|
People came to feast their eyes on the students' work and then some of them went but most people stopped for a few hours to enjoy the great pizza feast made in the home made pizza oven and cooked before their very eyes. There was a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere throughout the evening and a great energy that's hard to describe.
At around 6 pm the infamous RAK Voices put on a performance which was greatly appreciated by those there, especially the Pharrell Williams song, 'Happy' that is so popular all around the world these days. I joined in as I've been a member of this new group for the last few months and it was great fun to perform and to watch the audience's reaction.
During my time here in the UAE I've had the privilege of meeting some fantastically creative people and I've made some wonderful lifelong friends. As expats we know that the friends we make in countries all over the world will finally not be around us but I feel all the richer for the experiences I've been able to have and the people I've had the opportunity to meet.
One of the students, Christina Van Veerdegem has set up a Hanji Creations group on Facebook where we can all showcase our work, share ideas, and ask Hanji related questions, no matter where we live in the world. She's moving to Jakarta, I'm moving to Australia, another is going to Oman.
If you'd like to join this group please email me with a short note about your Hanji work and I'll send you an invite .
We are spreading our wings and the Hanji community worldwide is growing. I feel proud to have been a small part in making that happen.