British artist Chris Chamberlain has created a unique UAE national emblem from 50,000 pieces of hand-cut stained glass micro-mosaic and 18,000 Swarovski crystals. Titled ‘Spirit of the Emirates’, it also has 7 diamonds, 7 rubies and 7 lots of 7 AAA pearls.
The artist was inspired to create the artwork following a visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in early 2015. On a hotel roof one evening, Chamberlain looked out at the Dubai skyline: ‘I was so impressed … if I was Emirati, I’d be proud to be Emirati … because the UAE is a nation to be proud of … ambitious, dynamic, forward-looking, reaching for the stars … a nation that thinks big … so I decided I had to make an outstanding artwork about the UAE, something good enough for a palace.’
The art of mosaic originated in the Middle East 5000 years ago. Chamberlain’s new micro-mosaic method is a brand new contemporary development of this ancient art and was initially developed over a 6-month period in 2010. In 2015, following his visit to the UAE, Chamberlain began combining Swarovski crystals with hand-cut stained glass micro-mosaic – the only artist in the world to do so.
Chamberlain took 8 months to create the one-off artwork, cutting all its 50,000 tiny glass pieces himself using a metal ruler and a high-technology glass cutter, as shown below. No machines were used – only his hands.
Creating these pieces, which include the world-famous Italian Murano glass, involved close to 900 meters of glass cuts – greater than the height of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The pieces are small enough for about a dozen of them to fit around a small coin, as shown below.
He then carefully placed them one by one with tweezers, a process that requires both mental and manual dexterity, and years of practice.
‘Spirit of the Emirates was made using a brand new art technique that I invented,’ said Chamberlain. ‘Yes, it takes a huge amount of effort, patience and time. But the results are spectacular. Because this UAE emblem, in my opinion, is the most detailed, most beautiful fine art emblem in the world.’
The beak of the falcon is depicted with hand-cut mother-of-pearl tesserae and a natural ruby projects from the center of each of its 7 stars. Its flag is surrounded by 7 clusters of 7 AAA white pearls; 49 in total. These pearls are a reference to the pearling heritage of the UAE.
The small sliver of reflected light on the eye of the falcon – a tiny feature which can easily be overlooked – is in fact 7 small diamonds encased in a crescent of sterling silver.
‘All these ‘7’s represent the existence, strength and unity of the 7 Emirates,’ said Chamberlain.
‘It’s like a huge jewel, but photos can’t do it justice’, he continued. ‘Because you simply can’t photograph 18,000 Swarovskis, never mind 50,000 pieces of glass. A camera can’t capture how the artwork glistens like thousands of diamonds, and it can’t capture the spirit of the artwork, because when you see an artwork that took 8 months to make, you feel it somehow has spirit. So it really needs to be seen in person.’
The falcon’s wings of gold and pearlescent white, with 5 strands each side, represent the 5 Pillars of Islam; Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, Sawm and Hajj. Its 7 tail feathers represent the 7 emirates. The circular UAE flag in the center stands proud of the rest of the artwork. Its green, red and black – 3 of the 4 Pan-Arab colors – are variegated by a blend of up to 5 color tones, and include mirror and iridescent pieces.
Its black is a mix of the blackest black, of black-gold, black-royal blue, black-royal purple and black-steel. All this deep, vibrant color is surrounded by a gold-colored glass frame that appears to be one of the most remarkable picture frames ever made, and which in some respects appears more gold-like than gold itself.
‘Spirit of the Emirates’ measures 145cm x 119cm (57 inches x 47 inches), weighs 45 kilograms and was made in Chamberlain’s studio in Kent, England. The core of the artwork was completed on UAE National Day – December 2nd 2015.
It is now available to purchase at ‘Le Vault’ in Nation Towers, Corniche, Abu Dhabi. Le Vault specialises in luxury, bespoke and limited edition precious objects for the discerning collector.
Chamberlain is also the creator of ‘Jewel of the Universe’, a portrait of the Earth consisting of 330,000 hand-cut pieces of stained glass micro-mosaic and 60,000 Swarovski crystals. Measuring a giant 3.2 meters by 2.2 meters, this signature artwork was displayed at the Royal Opera Arcade gallery, Pall Mall, London and also at Fulham Palace, London. News articles about it appeared in the UK’s ‘Mail Online’ and ‘Time Out’, Italy’s ‘La Republica’ and in media as far away as Russia and the USA. Richard Long, a Turner prize winner, described it as ‘amazing and absolutely stunning.’
‘If someone had Spirit of the Emirates or Jewel of the Universe – or both – on display in their villa or mansion or palace, then when people see it, they’d go WOW! My God! That is absolutely unbelievable, absolutely beautiful!’, said Chamberlain. ‘And that’s when you’d know you own something genuinely, truly special.’
Contact: Chris Chamberlain | email@example.com