Bar three years at Leeds College of Art and Design, UK, Jordanian-British Julia Ibbini has spent the majority of her life in Abu Dhabi, and now works from a studio space in the heart of the city where she welcomes in visitors day and night, inviting them to talk art and enjoy a cup of her much loved tea.
Passionate about art from a young age, Ibbini set her sights on training as an artist, hoping to apply for a degree in Fine Art on completion of a foundation course. The assessors, though, had other ideas and advised her that she was unsuitable for a degree in Fine Art. Undeterred, she applied to study for a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communication – a course that, it transpired, allowed her to explore the breadth and depth of media and material in a way her first choice may not have. On graduation in 2002 she was awarded both the RSA Student Award and the D&AD Student Award.
Once her university days had passed Ibbini, like many creatives, did not consider a career in the arts a sustainable option, instead working successfully in marketing for a number of years – an experience that allowed her the kind of skillset many artists lack, and very much need.
Today, leap into the life of a full-time artist made with tremendous success, Julia Ibbini is a name on the lips of those in the know both in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE. The artist applies her marketing background not just to her own work, but also to that of other artists – using her real-world training to support a growing network of talented emerging and established artists get their work seen, heard and experienced.
Ibbini is the founder of art collective Fannan and, in 2013, established No White Walls: an artist-led initiative that develops exhibitions and projects across the UAE. She regularly curates exhibitions in the region and exhibits extensively herself, both in the UAE and internationally.
Ibbini was commissioned to create a piece in celebration of the UAE’s 40th anniversary. Her recent exhibitions include the Emirates Palace, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and with the Mojo Gallery in Dubai.