Over 22 years after their launch, Burj Al Arab still stands as one of the most iconic structures, not just in the region, but in the world. The architectural marvel that is this legendary building designed to resemble a ship’s sail, is adorned on the inside with as much splendour as the outside. With golden palm trees, fountains and a 180-metre tall atrium, the interior design claims much of the reason for its acclaim.
In 2021, Louise Duggan, founder of Ophelia Art Consultancy, was invited by KCA International and Burj Al Arab to develop nine artworks for their new visitor’s experience. In an effort to bring in a fresh perspective, Burj Al Arab looks to revisit the elemental theme by giving it a modern twist and clean lines. Duggan created pieces that capture the ornate opulence of the Burj Al Arab, while still retaining a modern interpretation of their original design.
Khuan Chew of KCA International created an environment of grandeur with an explosion of colour, all with the restraint of looking through the lens its inspiration, the natural elements. Duggan taps into this theme to create her art pieces. The four elements, earth, air, fire and water, all share a unique disposition to invoke a different emotions. “We loved this idea that while living we share the energy of the elements, air, earth, fire and water,” Duggan says.
“We wanted to use the gold lines and elements of gold leaf to bring the paintings together as a collection, but more importantly, the gold in each artwork represents this idea that, as guests pass through the hotel, they leave their own trail of energy in this iconic building, therefore, adding to its life force,” she continues. “Anyone that has visited this iconic hotel has left a little bit of their energy in this hotel.”
One of Duggan’s standout piece, created for the VIP lounge, combines the four elements in all their glory, using yellow, red, blue and green, all overflowing with gold lines dripping away down the canvas.
The artwork for the bathrooms exhibit a more delicate energy to complement the natural marble, achieved with a feminine fire element interrupted by delicate gold lines of energy. Two paintings are on display at the Mina a’Salam hotel, where the Burj Al Arab experience commences. Another two paintings are placed in the prayer rooms, representing the grounding force of earth using brown hues. A heavy use of gold is employed to illustrate the strength of the human spirit.