Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — Alaa, a Riyadh-based young artist, will participate in the Making Marks: Connect ME Digital Residency — a joint initiative from the British Council and the Arab British Centre — which aims to connect the Gulf and the UK during COVID-19.
The program pairs 18-30-year-old artists based in the UK with artists based in the GCC, to create new, collaborative work that considers how digital tools can encourage connectivity across borders.
Throughout August, Alaa will be paired with Northern Ireland artist Ellie Niblock, and together they will virtually develop their practice, create new collaborative work, and make new connections. They will also take part in online workshops, critique sessions and have access to ‘visiting’ artists and mentors over the four weeks.
Alaa specializes in urbanity and the built environment, with her work influenced by her academic background and training in architecture.
Speaking about the residency, she said: “Being a part of the Making Marks digital residency is so exciting; the residency comes at a time where it isn’t purely reactive to the physical limitations brought about by the pandemic, rather the format for the residency is extremely thoughtful and fits so well with the conscious use of technology to transcend borders and allow for cultural exchange in this time.
“My practice is not digitally driven, but rather is very much in relation to context and places/placemaking, I’m thrilled at the opportunity to challenge myself and also to be paired with a UK-based artist, it allows for us both to expand our horizons and to explore different mediums in our collaboration.”
Also speaking about the residency was Eilidh Kennedy McLean, Director British Council Saudi Arabia.
She said: “Congratulations to Alaa for being chosen to represent the Kingdom in this fantastic new program. It is really valuable to have Saudi artists engage with those in the UK and have the opportunity to work together on innovative projects. I am hopeful that this initiative will further strengthen ties between the countries of the Gulf and the UK, and I look forward to seeing the end result.”
Alaa, is one of two artists to be selected from the Gulf for this first Connect Me Residency Call. She is joined by Omani artist, Rawan AlMahrouqi, who is paired up with Liverpudlian artist Alexis Maxwell. There will be another open call for artists in the Gulf later in the year.
The ConnectME digital program has been devised as a way to stimulate international connections and creativity despite the restrictions on movement, as a result of Covid-19. ConnectME is a digital continuation of the Arab British Centre’s Making Marks program, the recent climax of which was canceled due to the pandemic.