Friday, 7 October 2011

Blog closed.

This blog is no longer being updated. 

I now write about my adventures and post photographs
along with my drawings & paintings on the blog:

Why not pop over and take a look? 
Recent posts are from Cuba and Qatar.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Opening Ceremony, Asian Football Cup, Qatar ©Sue Pownall 2011

Poor neglected blog, left alone while my art blog gets all the time and attention. Sorry, but in order to reach this year's goals that is how it has to be. However, a quick catch up on what has been happening. 
©Sue Pownall 2011
Where to start? January I guess.

First up were two trips the Asian Cup football as a colleague had spare tickets. Despite the madness of the badly organised entrance procedures, we were seated in time for the opening ceremony. It was impressive, see photos above and left, which is more than can be said about the opening match between Qatar and Uzbekistan. A few days later, we went to see Australia play the Korean Republic, which was more interesting, but I enjoyed watching the crowds more than the match.

Vamos! ©Sue Pownall 2011
Later in the month, there was another visit to the tennis. First off was the ATP quarter finals and I watched Nadal, who was fantastic, as always. Next up was Federer who walked all over his opponent. Then I went to Nadal's double match on court 1 - like an outer court at Wimbledon. I sat in the front row, so close you could almost touch him, and could really see his awesome tennis skills that make him the World's No. 1. By 9pm the temperature had dropped to 19c and us softies used to the winter warmth then shivered until 11.15 as the doubles was played and the temp dropped a couple more degrees. Nadal's partner Marc Lopez and his opponents, Gabashvili and Schreiber, all played well, but Nadal OUTSTANDING! 

Closing ceremony of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final 2011©Sue Pownall 2011
Then, on the Saturday afternoon, I was sat at home and a colleague knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to got to the final as he couldn't use his ticket... Did I want to go???? Hell yes. Mad panic to change, grab handbag and then a taxi. I arrived just moments after the stands opened and secured myself a great seat second row back from the railing in the upper tier. Unfortunately, Nadal had been knocked out in the semis the day before, so the final was Federal V Davydenko. They both played well, although Federer dominated the first set, but in the second set his play went up a notch and he was absolutely awesome to watch, and consequently won. Afterwards there was a terrific closing ceremony, lasers, music, the works, very different from the opening for the footie, which was masses of fireworks.

The city from the golf course
Beginning of February saw more sport as  I went to the Qatar Masters golf tournament. I am not really interested in golf, but it was a good opportunity to get outside and see some greenery; perfect weather around 25c. A friend got me into the Al Jazeera hospitality suite where we had a terrific lunch before a short wander around until we found the beer tent. It's a hard life at times!

The month finished with a day trip to a Qatari farm, which is very different from farm life in Europe. It was more like a small holding without a veggie patch; just a heifer and her calf, a herd of goats, some chickens & pigeons, but nothing growing apart from a few bushes and trees. I think the photo speaks for itself. btw the electric pylons are because Qatar survives due to its oil and gas.
Qatari farm with desert scenery behind.©Sue Pownall 2011
On a side note, my friend B was caught up in the dreadful events in Libya and it was very worrying not knowing if she was all right or not, luckily she got out via Egypt. Her first-hand account is written on A Million Miles from Pigeon Street.

At the Pearl  ©Sue Pownall 2011
Beginning of March, I went to a talk by the contemporary Beiruti, Lamia Joreige, who produces interesting installations using a lot of film, objects and social history in the form of recorded memories and photos. Whilst a week later, I attended a gathering for International Women's Day, which was held at the Pearl, and we were in the paper the next day. 

Storm over Raouche ©Sue Pownall 2011
Waiting to cross in the rain
Mid-March, two friends and I  ran away to Beirut for a couple of nights. It was cold and rained, hard, but so good to be in a free society. I really don't notice the limitations here in Doha much, but you can really see, sense, and feel the freedom of Lebanon- despite all its problems. We went out for some lovely meals, visited pubs and clubs, getting to see a fabulous live band, and even managed to do some sightseeing too. Maybe I should live there next? Didn't I say that after my visit in August '09?

After returning, the following evening, I went to a talk by the TED award speaker, Professor Karen Armstrong. The talk was very interesting on her interpretation of the interconnections between the religions, but she did over emphasise, at least for me, her TED prize wish of a Charter for Compassion. Still, I think I will buy her latest book.

Finally, like many people, I have been sick this month, but last weekend I got out and finally walked the 5.1k along Doha's Corniche. It was important to do it soon as the temperature has started to rise already and the summer heat will soon be upon us. I was not alone in enjoying the day there as families, friends, young and old, were all seen out enjoying themselves.
Think ©Sue Pownall 2011

Friday, 21 January 2011

Khartoum Portraits. Published!

A book is now available of my Khartoum sketches and photos. You can purchase it in softback or hardback by clicking the link below, which takes you to the blurb store.

Friday, 7 January 2011

End of Year Meme: 2010

I had forgotten I did this last year until I popped over to Bleeding Expresso Michelle Fabio's fab blog today. This year's version follows and you can also check out the previous one here 2009 

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before? Took part in an exhibition, hanging 3 of my drawings.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I made art-based resolutions only and exceeded them. A summary is over on artofanomad along with the new ones.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No

4. Did anyone close to you die? Luckily no.

5. What countries did you visit? Italy, Sudan, Oman & Qatar

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? Some commissions for my drawings.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November - when I a
chieved a childhood dream of seeing McEnroe play Borg.
John McEnroe serves against Borg. Qatar
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Taking part in the exhibition.

9. What was your biggest failure? I can't think of any - how fantastic is that!!!.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? As last year, nothing too bad, just a bit tired.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Tennis tickets to see McEnroe & Borg!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? There are so many people in this world who deserve to be celebrated.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? The politicians who continue to allow Israel's blockade of Gaza.

14. Where did most of your money go? Good question.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Achieving a childhood dream of seeing McEnroe play Borg.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?hmm no idea until I hear it.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? A) about the same B) put on a couple of k in Qatar due to slothness C) monetarily poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Drawing and smiling.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Moaning

20. How did you spend Christmas? With work colleagues as work continued as normal.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010? With Sudan and its wonderful people.

22. What was your favourite TV program? The Walking Dead

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I try not to hate anything or anyone. (as last year)

24. What was the best book you read?
So many to chose from, but I think the one that moved me the most was War Child, Emmanuel Jal

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?  None

26. What did you want and get? A new roof - finally I had photographic proof on 29th December.

27. What did you want and not get? A new chimney pipe for my wood burning stove.

28. What was your favourite film of this year? The First Grader, which I saw at the Doha Tribecca Film Festival.

The First Grader cast & producer Justin Chadwick

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Went for pizza with a couple of colleagues.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Being able to find work closer to my friends.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? Same as always, although I did buy two pairs of killer heels, which I can't walk in.

32. What kept you sane? Sketching and the online art community.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Rafa Nadal.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Israel/Gaza

35. Who did you miss? Everyone who wasn't near. (same as last year)

36. Who was the best new person you met? I was fortunate this year to meet so many fabulous new people: the wonderful Sudanese people in Khartoum many who are now good friends, Diana from A certain simplicity, and the artist Sandra (Sandraws). I was also fortunate to re-meet some "lost" friends especially Paula, another amazing artist who I went to art college with.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. Despite my self-doubt I AM an artist, and I'm good.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. This will also be for 2011, I hope. An oldie from '07 Taio Cruz I Can Be:
Now I feel that this heart, of mine has taken many falls,
Still sometimes the rain, can turn into a waterfall,
The prettiest things, can come out of the coldest night, 
And even with broken wings, sometimes you find your way to fly,

It's time to be, bigger bigger, stronger stronger, harder harder,

It's time to be, bigger bigger, stronger stronger, harder harder,
It's time to be,  ...

See I can be anything I want to be, All I have to do is put my mind to it, and I can do it, So what I want you to do, is put your fist to the sky, and say it with me,
I can be,

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Another year over - farewell 2010.

Falcon © Sue Pownall
Wow I'm not sure about the last month, but I'm looking forward to the new one in this new year of 2011. December started on a high, but seemed to have finished in a whimper. Whilst I like Doha I am finding it's a place where I am perpetually tired and feeling not 100%. Furthermore, I spend too much time in can't-be-bothered mode, even little things like going out for milk is too much. My only motivating force is my art, but sometimes even getting off the sofa to pick up a sketchbook doesn't happen either. 
Jude & Lola on Shatti beach at sunset, Oman © Sue Pownall
Anyway, I started the month with a visit to Muscat, Oman for the exhibition I mentioned in my last post. I stayed with some old friends and their children, who I have missed a lot in the last year, so it was good to catch up. I also got to meet a few of my other friends too, although not as many as I would have liked nor for as long. The exhibition event was a success for the organisers and is important for me as being my first show. I hope there are more to come.
Al Shaqab Stud horseman © Sue Pownall
Celebrating National Day
The 18th December was National Day here in Qatar and marked the end of a week of celebrations. On Friday 17th I got to see camel dressage as the riders took them through a course, falcons, selouki dog races, and beautiful Arabian horses. Then the next day, I joined the masses in the streets where the city had a buzz, a vibrancy, that was contagious. I walked along the Corniche where the military parade had taken place ( I missed the soldiers on camels unfortunately), amongst people of all nationalities dressed in the Qatari burgundy and white and/or waving flags. In the streets people had hung flags on their cars, added transfers and decorated them, then were driving around tooting and waving at people. Benign nationalism like this is fabulous.
How do they see to drive?
Two other notable events of the month were my friend's 30th birthday, celebrated on the 23rd, although her birthday is Christmas eve, at a restaurant on the Pearl - Qatar's artificial island. This was a lovely evening where my friend got thoroughly and deservedly spoilt which included waiters singing Happy Birthday to her when the cake was brought out. Finally, I spent Christmas Day with colleagues for lunch and silly games next door, followed by drinks with others colleagues further down the hall. Fortunately, Christmas Day fell on a weekend, but it was back to work again on Boxing Day.
By the waterside at the Pearl, Doha.

Happy 2011, may it bring you peace & happiness.

Monday, 29 November 2010

A secret

...I'm exhibiting in Muscat on the 6th and 7th December, that's in one week, and it's my first ever! Full details are over on my other blog here.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Camping Qatari style

Jump. ©Sue Pownall
Last Friday, at the end of the Eid break, I joined expats and Qataris on a escape from the city. Through meeting a Qatari guy working at the Magnum photography exhibition, a camping trip in the southern part of the country was organised, by an inland sea, Khor al-Udeid. Unfortunately, for me, due to normal delays/ miscommunication /hanging around we arrived at our camp dune at sunset. I would have preferred to arrive an hour or so earlier, but such is life. A couple decided to jump from our chosen camp spot down the dune, which looked good fun, but I preferred to just take photos sitting part way down.
A busy roadway across the dunes.
Due to it being Eid (like Christmas or Easter) and a Friday (European Sunday), with perfect weather (under 30c) the desert was not the quiet haven that I expected, but a mass of 4x4s and quad bikes dune bashing, as well as lights and noise from numerous camps.
Home from home.
In true Qatari style, we had a generator ugh for lights and a flat screen tv in case of boredom. I must admit it was funny watching others try and play volleyball just out of the glare of the lights, however I don't think any expats took advantage of the tv. Thankfully the generator was turned off around 1am. Ah peace.
Night volleyball.
However, by 5.15 it was light again as dawn broke across the sea. btw the land opposite is Saudi Arabia and we saw border patrols driving up and down their coast most of the night.
Dawn through my tent flaps.
We broke camp fairly early and took a circuitous route back across some huge dunes. Shortly before reaching the paved road we passed a huge herd of camels (is that the collective noun???). This is what the camel drover wears every day, he didn't dress like this for tourists!
Qatari man & his camel. ©Sue Pownall