Artists selected for UK-Gulf digital residency

Four young artists from the Gulf and the UK have been selected to take part in an international digital residency.

Alexis Maxwell from Merseyside, was chosen alongside Rawan Al-Mahrouqi from Oman, Alaa Tarabzouni from Saudi Arabia and Ellie Niblock from Northern Ireland,  for the ConnectME Summer Residency, run by the Arab British Centre in partnership with the British Council for artists aged 18-30.

This joint initiative aims to connect the Gulf and the UK during Covid-19 by pairing the artists to create new, collaborative work that considers how digital tools can encourage connectivity across borders. They will also take part in online workshops, critique sessions and have access to ‘visiting’ artists and mentors over the four weeks.The residency is a continuation of the 2019 Making Marks program, originally established to facilitate creativity between artists in the UK and Kuwait.

Alexis Maxwell, an interdisciplinary artist based in Merseyside,  blends spoken word and animation into performance art. She seeks to embrace the fluidity of race, culture and sexuality in her performances; the focus on creating a multi-layered experience through tech, text and illustration.

Speaking ahead of the residency , she said: “The ConnectME digital residency is an opportunity to collaborate with artists interculturally, forging connections between two practices and opening up my artistic process to new influences. It's a chance to learn from another artist and embrace the themes and style of their work, finding a way to intertwine that with my own. A unique opportunity for artistic and cultural growth. At times this practice can seem restricted to a close social and artistic circle, but this residency allows me to network with other creatives; exposing myself to unique perspectives and experiences that will change my relationship to art.”

Alexis will be paired with Omani artist, Rawan AlMahrouqi, a multidisciplinary contemporary artist, whose work focuses on the female experience in the Arabian Gulf.

She said: “I'm really excited and honoured to take part in this wonderful opportunity offered by the Arab British Centre and the British Council. What I'm looking forward to the most is learning new skills and interacting with my UK artist peer and seeing what we come up with. It is always interesting to see when cultures and experiences collide.

“Residencies are amazing opportunities for artists to learn and grow and expand their knowledge and expertise. This is my third and I am really looking forward to it.”

The four artists were selected from over 60 applications by a panel that included representatives from the Arab British Centre and the British Council, and was led by project mentor Alfredo Cramerotti, director of the MOSTYN Gallery in North Wales.

The ConnectME digital programme 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 programme, the recent climax of which was cancelled due to the pandemic.

To find out more about the Arab British Centre’s Making Marks programme visit: https://www.arabbritishcentre.org.uk/projects/making-marks-series/

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