The National talks to Sheikha Lulu Al Sabeh of Kuwait on the eve of her first auction:
This week her new art consultancy business, JAMM, will hold Kuwait’s first contemporary-art auction. She and her partner Lydia Limerick, the former head of Christie’s Middle East, acquired 55 pieces of art from across the Middle East, setting themselves a ceiling of KD17,000 (Dh217,000) per piece. In all but a few cases the sellers were the artists themselves. [….]
She also wants to see her country’s own art scene return to its heights of before the Iran-Iraq war. “Kuwait had quite a vibrant arts scene in the 1960s and 1970s,” she says, “and it went pretty stagnant around the 1980s.” […]
“My mother’s from New York, and she is the one who introduced me when I was a kid to this world of art, because she loves it across the board,” Sheikha Lulu explains. “I inherited this love from her, this passion from her.” A history master’s at Birkbeck College in London introduced the Sheikha to the Bloomsbury group – “Vanessa Bell, and Duncan Grant – and I just kept going more towards the arts.”
She started contributing to Canvas magazine and Eastern Art Report. “That’s how I started flexing my muscle in terms of art writing,” she says, “which is extremely difficult, and a skill in itself.” At around the same time she began working for the auction house Christie’s, and then for Phillips de Pury. “I don’t really see it as a career because it’s something that I really love to do,” she says.
“Because the market here is so small, you know everybody. The important thing is to work together. I don’t believe in this whole competition thing, I really don’t. Never did.”
‘This Isn’t a Career – It’s My Life’ (The National)