Dubai invites artists to set up shop in city

With its commitment to providing a home away from home to artists from all over the world, it is no surprise that artist-in-residence programmes have emerged as a growing trend in the emirate

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Elior Hazan
Elior Hazan

Purva Grover

Published: Fri 1 Jul 2022, 1:53 PM

Last updated: Fri 1 Jul 2022, 1:55 PM

Inviting artists from all over the world to set up shop in your space be it a gallery, hotel or an art institute is one of the best ways to not only support the artists' fraternity but also add a new dimension to the space. In a country committed to furthering the creative ambitions of one and all, it is no surprise that artist-in-residence programmes have emerged as a growing trend in Dubai. So, what's an artist-in-residence programme? It includes a huge spectrum of artistic sessions, involving a collaboration between artists and hosting organisations (museums, hotels, etc.) or communities. These are programs, which provide artists with space and resources to support their artistic practice.

The prime reason for the rise of art residencies

"The rise in residences can be attributed to the need in the artistic community for artists to have dedicated time and space away from their usual surroundings and obligations to create and innovate in their practice," said a spokesperson from Tashkeel, a contemporary centre. Established in Dubai in 2008, Tashkeel seeks to provide a nurturing environment for the growth of contemporary art and design practices rooted in the UAE. Both of Tashkeel's locations – in Al Sheba and Al Fahidi – are outfitted with multi-disciplinary studios, workspaces and galleries for the use of residents and wider nurturing of talents within the community. The Artist in Residence programme at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel was launched in April last year. "With the aim of connecting guests to the culture and heritage of their surroundings, we shine a spotlight on the region's vibrant art scene, with this programme," said Andy Cuthbert, general manager, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel.

A platform for one and all

Since 2008 (until now), Tashkeel has welcomed 77 artists-in-residence who have worked in mediums ranging from sound and performance art to mixed media, installation, and sculpture. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel has so far worked with two artists including Sabrina Pohl from Germany and Paula Blanco from Spain. Born in 1993 in Vienna, the Austrian-based artist Marie Theres Madani, is the third artist to take up residency in the hotel. The artist drew inspiration from her three-month stay at the hotel and created bespoke pieces inspired by the hotel and the city. "Tashkeel has had previous residences that focused on the development of talent from the UAE and wider region, as well as cultural exchange between artists globally. The programme enables residents to engage deeply with the local environment and community through excursions, workshops and talks," added the Tashkeel spokesperson.

Meet the artists

In all cases, the arts community benefits from Tashkeel's residences through engagement opportunities with the featured artists, from talks and workshops to exhibitions. ME Dubai too recently welcomed British abstract artist Nat Bowen as their artist in residence (February- March). Hotel guests were able to see first-hand Nat's amazing artistic abilities during her residency via a specially created pop-up concept store located at the 'heart' of ME Dubai's Atrium. Completing the display was the McLaren Artura featuring a bespoke artwork, designed by Bowen. In January 2022, ME Dubai announced artist James Goldcrown as its Artist in Residence. The creative collaboration saw him too take up a pop-up studio in the Atrium, and the partnership featured James' take-over of the hotel's super-luxurious Suite ME, resulting in a 'Love Suite', launched for Valentine's Day 2022. The residency also included a series of exciting and interactive occasions, where the guests discovered the secrets of James' success from the artist himself.

The goals to be achieved

Following the successful launch of their first artist residency, Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown revealed an art piece in April last year, which was created in collaboration with Israeli artist, Elior Hazan and other contributing home-grown artists. Over the duration of his residency at the art-led boutique hotel, Elior visited Dubai for the first time and explored the city, drawing inspiration from its cultural heritage to create a one-of-a-kind art piece, which perfectly reflects the highly diverse nature of the country. Artist residencies at Tashkeel range from four months to a year.


"The goal of the program is to provide practitioners with plenty of space to research and experiment as well as delivering access to skilled staff and state-of-the-art studio facilities," said, Hazan. Artists often culminate their residencies by displaying their art in exhibitions at one of Tashkeel's galleries.


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