Artists chosen for scholarship to create together thousands of miles apart

UK and Gulf artists join an online residency programme to overcome pandemic limits

Manal Al Dowayan. Sage Sohier
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Four artists based in the UK, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will take part in an online residency programme set up by the Arab British Centre and the British Council.

For the second year running, the Connect ME Digital Residency programme will allow artists to collaborate on digital work over four weeks with an online mentor.

Developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the programme is a digital continuation of Making Marks, the Arab British Centre’s creative exchange programme between the UK and Gulf countries.

This year’s edition will be mentored by Manal Al Dowayan, a Saudi Arabian multimedia artist whose works are on display at the British Museum, Ithra Cultural Centre and LA County Museum.

Ollie Cameron, one of the two UK-based artists, is an illustrator and recent winner of the BBC Student Visual Journalist of the year award. Having found it hard to collaborate with other artists during the pandemic, he said the residency was “an exciting new platform to explore the interesting and often bizarre ways that we can continue to share art and ideas, even when thousands of miles apart".

Cameron will be paired with Dubai-based Dina Khatib, a multimedia designer and member of the UAE National Pavilions research team for 2021 Venice Biennale. Khatib is intrigued to work with someone she does not know and who is thousands of kilometres away. “I am excited to see the work that comes out of a close collaboration with a stranger, especially one who has been influenced by a different cultural experience.”

London-based Carolin Shnurrer, who will be working with Meshal Al Obaidallah in Saudi Arabia, says the digital experience will allow “intriguing synergies between cultures”. Shnurrer’s captivating cross-medium sensory experiences have already landed her a residency at the studio of multi-award-winning British artist Haroon Mirza, as well as invitations to perform at Tate Lates and Mira Festival.

Winner of the 2016 Fourth International Emerging Artist Award, Al Obaidallah is a visual artist with a focus on current issues and affairs in Saudi Arabia. Given that his more recent works explore internet culture and multimedia, he says he was particularly drawn to the residency because of its "digital and collaborative aspects", which he hopes will allow him to continue to experiment within his practice.