Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Sha'ban 28, 1444 H
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Desert as a canvas

Vera Lucia Mauro at her exhibition in Duqm
Vera Lucia Mauro at her exhibition in Duqm

A Brazilian born artist who has nostalgic memories of her life in the Sultanate is artist Vera Lucia Mauro who always loved to paint.

Hailing from Pedra Azul (Blue Stone), a small village for Italian immigrants, she was interested in countries and the diversity of cultures.

Vera lived in many countries but mostly in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and earlier in Portugal and the UK. She met Roel van de Loo, her husband and lived for 3 years in Sint Maarten, a Caribbean Island.

However, her real adventures began when her husband got a job offer to work in Suhar about 13 years back.

At her first sight, she fell in love with the Sultanate.

Everything was new and mystic and her whole life she loved the desert as ‘an empty space full of mysteries and invisible magical presences.’ She describes it (desert) as silent, windy, dynamic and changing its art every moment as the wind blew. She saw the desert as an open canvas full of inspiration.

Says Vera, “My experiences with the Omanis were warm and joyful. This helped create a painting deep inside my heart and soul. Some of them went on to become best friends for life.”

“Painting can work as a healing therapy for the heart and soul of many people who have lost their faith in themselves. With art, life gets colourful, bright and beautiful again. Art gives another perspective to carry on the good work and to keep the spirits high.”

She recollects her opportunity to meet with many talented artists in the Sultanate. One such is Canadian photographer-cum-painter and environmental specialist Peter Farrington (well-known for his works on Duqm) who helped artists project their dreams and held the expo ‘Duqm: Portraits of Discovery’ in October 2011.

Besides painting, Vera also dabbled in photography and Duqm was a perfect scenario for her. Duqm, according to Vera, is beautiful, “yet a bit untouched and quite innocent to the new world that it soon would become.” She made a painting projecting it a bit for the future with hotels and restaurants and named it “Do come to Duqm’.

She was part of a group of artists willing to discover and portrait the many faces of Duqm and its inhabitants, to discover the magical and the inspirational landscape of Duqm and have memories of the most precious memories from the trip.

“The Rock gardens at Duqm are so magical. We went at night and with the sky full of stars is a view that I still see when I close my eyes and think of it. Pure magic,” she explains.

Back in Muscat from Duqm, Peter in cooperation with Bait Muzna Gallery, put together an amazing exposition called ‘Duqm: Portraits of Discovery.’

She would love to come back to Duqm and observe its transformation. “I do hope the progress also comes with a conscious mind about the beautiful fauna and flora of the region and despite the progress it remains the untouched beautiful Duqm she saw years back.”

After the pandemic, Vera plans to do another art project in Duqm with famous landscape artist and architect Bruno Doedens. She has already completed a few artwork projects at the beach filmed by National Geographic. She mentions the project as a beautiful peaceful piece of art and would like to invite Peter and all other artists who can share the experience of visiting Duqm and rediscover it all over again.

Years later, now settled in the Netherlands, she feels nostalgic of her role as a DJ (artist name DJ Nina) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Suhar experiencing wonderful times. She and Roel helped organise the Sohar Jazz Festival with the help of wonderful people which always reminds them of their wonderful life in Suhar.

She was responsible for creating ‘Officina della Art,’ a place where she has been working with artists and encouraging people to paint and bring the best of themselves as an expression of their talents and lives.

Having exhibited her works in Europe and the Middle East and China, Vera’s ultimate goal is to have colourful artwork exhibited all over the world. But more than that she believes ‘art should be accessible for everyone, and would like to bring art to all the children of the world. An art school to feed the hunger and heal the soul that is the dream.”

(The pictures at the art exhibition were taken before the Covid-19 pandemic began)

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