Connect ME


In keeping with the spirit of exchange and international collaboration at the centre of the Arab British Centre’s Making Marks strand, Connect ME is a new collaborative digital residency programme focused on connecting artists aged 18-30 based in the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia) and the United Kingdom.

The Connect ME programme pairs artists based in the United Kingdom with artists based in the GCC, to create new, collaborative work that considers how digital tools can encourage connectivity across borders.

The results could be anything from an augmented reality experience to a short film, a zine, a live performance – the only stipulation is it must be delivered to the public through digital channels. Participating artists also benefit from a residency fee of £1000, guidance and support from The Arab British Centre and a dedicated mentor from a UK culture organisation, as well as workshops and crit sessions with “visiting” artists and mentors over the course of four weeks.


CONNECT ME: Digital Connectivity Across Borders (Summer 2020 Residency)

This first iteration of Connect ME runs from July – August 2020. The four artists were selected following an Open Call in July, and will be working over 4 weeks to create their new, collaborative digital work. This work will be released at the end of August on the upcoming Making Marks website. Mentoring the artists for the Summer Residency is Alfredo Cramerotti, director of MOSTYN Gallery in North Wales.

Rawan AlMahrouqi

Paired with Alexis Maxwell

Rawan AlMahrouqi is multidisciplinary contemporary artist from Oman who’s work focuses on the female experience in the Arabian Gulf, double standards, the thin line between tradition and religion, and an overall social commentary.

Her works tend to be neutral, asking questions without giving an opinion and often stating facts as they are to start a conversation, most of her inspiration is drawn from her Khaleeji (Arabian Gulf) culture and the experiences she has had growing up and living in it.

She has had two curatorial experiences at Stal Gallery, Muscat, and has been in 13 group exhibitions in the region and Europe.

The artist is the founder of Makan Studios, a first of its kind local art school that offers a community for the arts in Muscat.

Alexis Maxwell

Paired with Rawan AlMahrouqi

Alexis is an interdisciplinary artist based in Merseyside, who blends spoken word and animation into performance art. As someone of mixed heritage, she seeks to embrace the fluidity of race, culture and sexuality in politically charged performances that champion the basic human right of existing without judgement.  Alexis focuses on themes of identity, seeking to embrace the ever-growing multi-cultural communities in the UK. Her projects are often unapologetic in their boldness; the focus on creating a multi-layered experience through a unique blend of tech, text and illustration. 

Alaa Tarabzouni

Paired with Ellie Niblock

Influenced by her academic background and training in architecture, Alaa Tarabzouni’s practice is concerned with urbanity and the built environment. Traditionally trained as an architect, with both a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in architecture from Newcastle University in England and Pratt Institute in New York respectively. 

Alaa considers context as her medium and it is consistently apparent in her practice; her most recent work Bait Al Wurud, was showcased at Durational Portrait at Athr Gallery in Jeddah and The Quest for Our Next Concern in Riyadh, and was a meditation on longing manifested in the recontextualization of architectural elements to the gallery space.  

Al-Manakh, You Will Be Missed is Alaa and Fahad bin Naif’s first collaborative work and was shown at the 7th edition of 21,39 at the Saudi Art Council in Jeddah, 2020. The installation explores the foundations of a localized ecological crisis, permeated with the melancholy of subtle, yet constant, evolution.

In 2018 Alaa and Fahad set up Studio AF. in Riyadh, as a multidisciplinary art and design studio with a focus on local architectural and urban research and theory and contemporary regional art. 

Ellie Niblock

Paired with Alaa Tarabzouni

Ellie Niblock (Northern Ireland, 1993) is an artist living and working in London and has just finished an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, where she has been shortlisted for The Cass Art Prize. Ellie completed a BA Hons in Textile Art, Design and Fashion in 2015, receiving a First Class honours. She has participated in both solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including working with venues such as The Mark Rothko Centre, Tate Modern and The V&A. She was the first artist from Northern Ireland to be awarded an art residency to India in 2016, by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council. She recently sold work to The Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their permanent collection.  

Ellie’s practice explores the relationship between the physical and the digital worlds and how they co-exist. It seeks to discover how tactility and digital technology can alter our perception of experiences through sculpture, 3D scanning, animation and sound.