Meet Alaa Tarabzouni and Rawan Al-Mahrouqi: The Regional Artists Participating In ConnectME Summer Residency

BY Sharvari Alape / Aug 3 2020 / 12:15 PM

Arab British Centre's digital initiative is an exciting opportunity for cultural exchange and creativity across borders

Meet Alaa Tarabzouni and Rawan Al-Mahrouqi: The Regional Artists Participating In ConnectME Summer Residency
Rawan Al Mahrouqi Portrait

Saudi artist Alaa Tarabzouni and Omani artist Rawan Al-Mahrouqi have been selected to participate in the ConnectME Summer Residency, a prestigious digital residency programme that aims to foster international connectivity and promote creativity during the imposed restrictions on movement caused by the COVID-19.

Following Arab British Centre's Making Marks program, the Centre is continuing the strand with its digital residency in partnership with the British Council for artists aged 18 – 30.

The initiative connects GCC-based artists with artists based in the United Kingdom to create collaborative digital work transcending borders by utilising digital tools. The artists will take part in online workshops, critique sessions and benefit from mentors and access to 'visiting' artists.

Alexis Maxwell portrait

The multidisciplinary contemporary artist AlMahrouqi's works are centred on the female experience in the Arabian Gulf and will be paired with interdisciplinary artist Alexis Maxwell based in Merseyside, UK.

"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," says AlMahrouqi. "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."

Alaa Tarabzouni portrait

Influenced by her academic background in architecture, Tarabzouni specialises in the built environment and will be paired with Northern Ireland artist Ellie Niblock.

"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," says Tarabzouni.

"My practice is not digitally driven, but rather is very much in relation to context and places/place making, 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."

Ellie Niblock portrait

Four artists were chosen from over 60 applicants following an Open Call in July to participate for over four weeks during the Connect ME's first iteration running from July – August 2020.

The selection panel led by Alfredo Cramerotti, director of the MOSTYN Gallery in North Wales as the project mentor included representatives from the British Council and the Arab British Centre.

Images courtsey of the Arab British Centre and the artists