Press Release - Everything Online

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Date: Tuesday 14 Apr, 2020 - Friday 31 Jul, 2020
Time: 10:00 am - 11:59 pm
Venue: Maraya Art Centre, Al Qasba, Block (E), Second Floor (Maraya Art Gallery) , United Arab Emirates

Maraya Art Centre with the British Council and Ffotogallery unveil its immersive online programme

  • Accompanying exhibition videos and filmed artist portraits will be showcased online
  • Two 360-degree virtual tours of the current exhibitions guide viewers through the shows at their own pace
  • Catalogues are published online and physical distribution of copies are available for interested recipients
  • Online Programming for the exhibition “Rearranging the Riddle” entails a Wikipedia “Edit-a-Thon” on female Emirati artists as well as inspiring “All About the Colour Blue” Playlists
  • A photography competition around the exhibition “The Place I Call Home” in collaboration with the British Council and Ffotogallery invites viewers to share their views of ‘home’

SHARJAH - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES |April 14, 2020 - Maraya Art Centre, an initiative by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), together with the partners of its current exhibitions the British Council and Ffotogallery, has announced today a public online programme tailored around the current exhibitions to encourage digital participation by the community. This programme comes in conjunction with the evolving global situation of Covid-19, and official guidelines around public gatherings. Digital tools have been developed to increase community engagement and to stay active through the current crisis with a programme full of digital activations. The community can stay up to date on all announcements and new releases through the organisation’s social media platforms.

Exhibition Videos and Short Filmed Artists Portraits

Maraya Art Centre has released two new videos about its current exhibitions “The Place I Call Home” and “Rearranging the Riddle. New Works by Shaikha Al Mazrou” and four shorter filmed artist portraits, introducing four photographers from the exhibition “The Place I Call Home”, namely Ammar Al Attar (UAE), Ben Soedira (UK – based in UK), Gillian Robertson (UK – based in UAE) and Richard Allenby-Pratt (UK – based in UAE). The films enable a deeper understanding of the exhibitions, their curatorial concepts and invite the viewers to get to know more about the artists and their practices through these filmed interviews. They are uploaded on the website and are promoted on social media platforms.

360 Degree Virtual Tours

Furthermore, visitors are invited to step digitally into its current exhibitions: “Rearranging the Riddle. New Works by Shaikha Al Mazrou” as well as “The Place I Call Home” by means of 360 degree virtual experiences. Visitors will be able to navigate themselves within the gallery space and zoom into the artworks, thereby getting the chance to read the Arabic and English captions and artwork descriptions as they move along. The tours aim to create online resources and interactions that can be accessed by the broadest possible range of users, delivering rich, and meaningful cultural experiences at everyone’s own pace.

Online Publishing of accompanying catalogues under Maraya Art Centre’s Publications

Among the interactive and participatory forms launched, Maraya Art Centre’s website offers the option to download bilingual Arabic and English catalogues that allow the audience to read more about the exhibition’s curatorial concepts, the artists and their practices. Richly illustrated with installation shots of the exhibitions as well as featuring curatorial essays, interviews and in-depth artwork descriptions, the catalogues are available online under, among previous publications. Physical copies are also made available upon request.

Cristiana de Marchi, Curator of “Rearranging the Riddle. New Works by Shaikha Al Mazrou” commented saying: “The exhibition, which is accompanied by a catalogue that also acts as a first monographic publication dedicated to Al Mazrou's work, delves into the possibility of conjugating an autobiographic approach with a strictly formal artistic research, and in its rich material approach makes the conversation deeply engaging for the viewer".

Online Programming – ‘Edit-A-Thon on Wikipedia’ and ‘All About the Colour Blue’ Playlists by Cristiana de Marchi and other invited professionals

Cristiana de Marchi and Maraya Art Centre are initiating an online workshop that is inspired by the Edit-a-thon (an editing marathon) format, where a group of volunteers is gathered to compile Wikipedia pages dedicated to underrepresented categories of individuals. Following a call for contributions to Wikipedia pages, with a subject matter focused on women artists in the UAE (both local and long-term residents), this initiative aims to improve the representation of regional women artists and practitioners on Wikipedia who are generally underrepresented. Remotely bringing together participants to create, share, and improve Wikipedia articles about women artists and makers in and from the region, the pages will be then edited to conform the Wikipedia standards and uploaded by Maraya Art Centre on the popular public encyclopedia. Interested participants should please contact

Additionally, and in line with the significance of the colour blue in the present solo exhibition on Shaikha Al Mazrou, over the coming months, Cristiana de Marchi and other invited professionals from various cultural fields will share a compilation of their favourite lists of music, books and movies, that Maraya Art Centre will publish on its social media as a series of “playlists” and suggestions for further explorations on the theme of the colour blue.

Photography Competition for “The Place I Call Home”

In collaboration with the British Council and Ffotogallery, Maraya Art Centre concludes its online programming with a photography competition addressing themes relating to the exhibition “The Place I Call Home”. The competition invites participants to re-evaluate the meaning of home, both near and far, through their own photographs and submit them via Instagram on a specifically created website (see below).

The topic of the competition coincides with a time when staying at home has become vital for public health. Seeing one’s own place with different eyes is a means of engaging with own interpretations, but also to explore other people’s daily surroundings and feelings of what constitutes ‘home’. The competition will be open for entries until the closing of the exhibition on 31 May 2020. A selection committee that comprises members of the British Council, Ffotogallery and Maraya Art Centre will select the winners whose names will be announced in the first week of June 2020. Participants can win different prizes related to the field of photography. To join, please visit: 

Commenting on the online programme, Dr Nina Heydemann, Director of the Maraya Art Centre and the 1971 – Design Space stated:

“With our online programming and virtual exhibition views, we want to make sure that our audiences can enjoy the experience of our exhibitions and be part of them, despite the current circumstances caused by Covid-19. We encourage viewers of our online content to watch our videos, take a tour, read our catalogues, learn more about our artists in our video portraits, engage with the research of the exhibition topics and participate in our online photo competition about that very question that has become more prevalent than ever today “What is the place you call home?”.

Waseem Kotoub, Senior Programme Manager, Culture and Sport Programme, Gulf, from the British Council said:

“At this difficult time the British Council is committed to ensuring that people all over the world have access to culture and cultural connections. We have always believed that culture connects us and during this period of uncertainty this is more important than ever.

“This is why we are delighted to see the digitisation of The Place I Call Home by the Maraya Art Centre. This is a fantastic way to engage digital audiences in the UAE as well as across the globe.

“The exhibition uses the arts as a vehicle to connect the UK and the Gulf, showcasing how photography can transcend borders and build understanding. The photographic series prompts its visitors to reflect on their own notion of home and I welcome everyone to explore it online.”

David Drake, Curator and Director of Ffotogallery stated: "As curator of The Place I Call Home, I was particularly delighted to present the exhibition at Maraya Art Centre. With the huge transformational changes happening in the Gulf region and UK, the question of how we create places and spaces where we feel at home felt a highly pertinent one. The artists in the exhibition have responded creatively to that question from their different standpoints, and now through the photo competition, we invite others in the UAE to share your images and thoughts on what home means to you.”

About the exhibitions:

“Rearranging the Riddle. New Works by Shaikha Al Mazrou” is the Emirati artist’s first institutional solo exhibition, curated by Cristiana De Marchi. The exhibition features seven newly created works of art that address the personal within the abstract, with a specific emphasis on the significance of the colour blue in Shaikha Al Mazrou’s practice. As the exhibition titles suggests, the works of this show a new aspect of the artist’s work delving into autobiographical elements, while, at the same time, denying them.

“The Place I Call Home” is a group exhibition of 13 photographers from the UK and the GCC countries, curated by David Drake, Director of Ffotogallery, and was created in collaboration with the British Council. This unique traveling exhibition uses the medium of contemporary photography and film to explore what ‘home’ means to young people living in the Gulf and the UK at a time of rapid change and social mobility. The exhibition traveled across seven countries over the span of six months. Exploring the theme of ‘home’ the work of the artists illustrates stories of culture and heritage, and challenge stereotypes whilst also exploring identities, commonalities and difference.

You can find more information on the programme and activations on Maraya Arts Centre’s website, and social media platforms here.

The Centre also offers physical copies of the catalogues to interested recipients. For more information, please email


For more information, visit and join the conversation:

Instagram - @marayaartcentre

Facebook - @MarayaArt

Twitter - @MarayaArtCentre


Press Enquiries

Dareen Al Sarraj

+971 58 562 3801

About Maraya Art Centre

A Non-profit art space and cultural platform located at Al Qasba, Sharjah. Maraya Art Centre is an initiative by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), with the purpose of promoting young artists from both the Arab region and the international art scene. Officially launched in March 2010, the Centre is one of the U.A.E.’s most significant venues for contemporary visual arts.

Maraya Art Centre strives to support artists through exhibitions, commissions, residencies and research opportunities. The Centre hosts a growing resource library and the Maraya Video Archive.

Visitors are invited to explore the outdoor street art initiative “Jedariya scattered around the Emirate of Sharjah. In close proximity to the Maraya Art Centre, the 1971- Design Space on Flag Island in Sharjah is another highlight to visit. Founded in 2015, this multi-functional design space is dedicated to the display of all forms of contemporary design.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

About Ffotogallery

Since its formation in 1978, Ffotogallery has been at the forefront of new developments in photography and lens-based media in Wales and beyond, encouraging public understanding of and deeper engagement with photography and its value to society.

This is realised through:

-Exhibitions, print and online publishing activities and projects that reflect the evolution of the photographic medium and its role in the world

-Commissioning and exhibiting the work of new and established artists and cross-disciplinary practice that responds to the evolving nature of the medium

-Organising the biennial Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography

-Developing learning resources, organising talks and events, courses and workshops to support practice, knowledge exchange and appreciation

-Providing a creative studio and digital workspace for creative practitioners, collaborating groups and visiting international artists

-Preserving existing and producing new archival materials and establishing a new library to make them publicly accessible

-Internships, volunteering and skills development opportunities across the range of the organisation’s work

Ffotogallery is a not for profit company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, in receipt of annual funding from the Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff City Council.