Al Rei for BTV

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Interview on Al Rei for BTV by the talented Dr Lulwa Budalamah.

On Monday the 12th of March Anna Thackray was interviewed by Dr Lulwa Budalamah.

For those non-Arabic speakers the transcript are as follows:

Tell me about Anna?

I was born and grew up in South Africa. In my early twenties, my university studies brought me to England where I also met my British husband to be. In 2006 I obtained my B.A Hons (Fine Art).

With regards to the beginning of my artistic life, it was my father who bought me my first tube of oil paint when I was 11. It gave me a means of expressing myself and communicating my feelings. After graduating from the university, I took the first steps on the challenging journey of becoming a professional artist. This was not an easy mission but I was compelled to do so. With a lot of willpower and hard work I made a good living out of painting commissions in my London studio. I also participated in numerous international art exhibitions.

What drew your attention to Bahrain and Gulf to start your business?

I moved to Bahrain in 2008 and was honoured to be commissioned for various high profile projects creating uniquely styled oil paintings. Always ready for new creative ventures, I was asked to illustrate a guidebook about Bahrain (StreetSmart Bahrain) and it was while doing this assignment that I started to scribble drawings of superheroes in the margins of my sketchbook and so Shamal was born.

I heard that you love the popular tradition of Bahrain? What is the secret behind this passion?

I love Bahrain and it heritage, it is one of my biggest inspirations.

I’m so lucky to hear a lot of old, traditional stories from Bahrainis. They email me, call me or tell me in person. I’m fascinated by Bahrain’s folklore, for example Umm Ahmar is such an interesting character. When I first heard about her, I knew she had to be in the story. Now, one of the greatest compliments that I hear from Bahrainis when they see my illustration of Umm Ahmar is: “That’s it, this is Umm Ahmar! How did you know what she looks like!?!?”. She is a fictional character of course as every Bahraini knows, but obviously, I somehow managed to capture the essence of Umm Ahmar’s scary personage. In the new book, more folkloric characters will appear but you’ll have to wait and see who they are!

It’s an ongoing story, so a series. Until when it goes on, I don’t know! Once I have gotten the complete story out of me, then it will end. I hope that Shamal will become an iconic Bahrain product.

Tell me about your new book series ” the Adventure of north” and what is the content?

The story starts Pre-Dilmun era. A gang of thieves planned to pass by Bahrain on their way to China on the spice route, stealing and thieving on the way there, but their Dhow ran aground on a Bahrain beach. Here they camped and waited for their ship to be fixed.

The gang was led by two brothers who got into a fight with each other. The elder brother and the group leader wanted to teach his younger brother a lesson. So, he buried him close to the tree of life. He didn’t want to kill him, just frighten him but he was killed himself so could not free his brother… The Tree of Life however kept Shamal the younger brother alive…

Skip to present day Bahrain and Shamal must make up for all the bad things he did. Dr Lorna Carse and Prof Ahmed are investigating how Shamal can still be alive after hundreds of years…

Anna is wearing a beautiful, flowing black and white piece by Black Anaar.

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About the Author : A.L. Thackray


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