UAE's Independent Art Market Pioneer

Aug 08,2018

The independent art market in any city is often spearheaded by a few passionate individuals that work tirelessly to create more opportunities for creatives - Miriam Walsh is one of them.

Walsh has long been an active contributor to Dubai's art market since founding ARTE (Artisans in the Emirates) back in 2005. ARTE turns public spaces into pop up markets for independent artists and artisans. What started out as a lone handicraft market in Dubai has now expanded into multiple regular pop-up markets in Times Square Center, Mercato Mall and Wafi Mall in Dubai as well as Al Hamra Mall in Ras Al Khaimah. We sat down with this inspiring entrepreneur to get her thoughts on the evolution of UAEs art market.


Tell us a little about your art background 

The work that I do in the arts requires commitment, desire, respect, love and kindness. My skills and passion are the basis for my work that provides a platform for success. Personally, when there is time, I am a felt maker and I work with sheep’s wool and fabric. 


How did you get started? 

A dream that I had manifested itself into receiving some money from my mum so that I could buy my materials. After my product launch at the bazaars in Dubai, a fellow jewelry designer and I got together and started ARTE for Artisans in the Emirates. We were then in control of who attended the market, and how was it marketed. 


How long have you been a UAE resident? What are your thoughts on the growth of arts and culture in the country?

I have been a UAE resident for 28 years and as Dubai has expanded over all these years, so has the arts sector. The growth in population and increasing maturity of Dubai has created more practitioners in the arts as well as a greater number of those seeking out art and culture from the UAE, so both supply and demand have grown. ARTE has played a significant role in this process since we were the first Handmade Art & Craft market. It feels great to be part of this important movement of supporting local Artisans of the Emirates. 


Why did you start the ARTE event in the UAE? 

In 2005 there was no other platform for local artisans to showcase their creativity, and it has been my enduring passion to provide opportunities for creative hobbyists which would not necessarily be 'open' to them as individual artists. 

Were there any breakout stars from ARTE? 

Yes, we have had a few. One pottery maker was 'found' by an international hotel chain and became a supplier to the hotel; Stevie Lowmass founder of Camel Milk Soaps started off at ARTE and her business has now grown into an international one; we had a jewelry maker who has now established a full retail presence in one of Dubai's prestigious malls, another opened her boutique in Madinat and even a team from afar came to Dubai only because ARTE would be the main platform for their functional art. Sometimes success is not widely known and the experience results in feeling good, gaining confidence,  friendship and mainly breaking through an old habit or fear. 


How would you rate the talent in the UAE? 

There are some exceptionally skilled artisans here, producing wonderful artworks and unique quality arts and craft products. Visit ARTE and take a look at the beautiful work that the artisans are putting on display. We have evolved from crafting housewives to worldwide recognized artists attending at regular intervals to get feedback on design and style. 

Walsh(third from left) with her team at ARTE

What's next for ARTE?

ARTE is a platform for new talent, therefore every ARTE is fresh and an inspiration for everybody. We play an active and vibrant part in the community of entrepreneurs, artisans, designers, makers and bakers. The programme for ARTE is regular, we feature most weekends somewhere in the UAE and we are always looking for new popular locations. 


Any advice for young creatives in the UAE? 

Follow your dreams with passion and it can become a commercially viable business. It is important that you create from the heart, that you focus on a plan that includes joy, quality, networking, marketing, money validation, community, commerciality, and commitment. 


For more info on Arte visit