Monday 03 August 2020

 Northern Ireland artist Ellie Niblock has been selected to take part in a prestigious international digital arts residency this month.

Ellie will participate in the Making Marks: Connect ME Digital Residency. This joint initiative by the British Council and the Arab British Centre aims to connect the Gulf and the UK during Covid-19.

The programme pairs 18-30-year-old artists in the UK with artists in the Gulf to create new, collaborative work looking at how digital approaches can encourage connections across borders.

Ellie is currently based in London and specialises in exploring the relationship between the physical and digital worlds and how they co-exist. Her work uses the mediums of sculpture, 3D scanning, animation and sound.

Ellie received a first-class honours in textile art, design and fashion at UIster University, Belfast, in 2015. She has just finished a masters in fine art at Central Saint Martins, where she has been shortlisted for the Cass Art Prize.

During August Ellie will work with Saudi artist Alaa Tarabzouni, who specialises in urbanity and the built environment. Alaa’s work is influenced by her academic background and training in architecture.

The two artists will virtually develop their practice, create together, and make new connections. They will also take part in workshops, critique sessions and have access to visiting artists and mentors. At the end of the project they will release a new digital artwork.

Speaking about the residency, Ellie said:“I am looking forward to this project because it provides an opportunity to work internationally without the limitations of the current travel circumstances. Working with other creatives inspires and motivates me, so this collaborative residency really caught my eye.

“This is my first time collaborating online with another artist and I am excited to explore the possibilities. This project will enable me to continue to develop my practice and I can’t wait to start.”

British Council Northern Ireland director Jonathan Stewart said: “Congratulations to Ellie on being selected to take part in this international arts residency. It is great to be building new connections through this innovative new programme and I hope this project will further strengthen ties between Northern Ireland and the Gulf. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished artwork that Ellie and Alaa create.”

Ellie is one of two UK artists selected for the first Connect Me Residency Call. She is joined by Liverpudlian artist Alexis Maxwell, who is paired with Omani artist Rawan AlMahrougi.

The ConnectME digital programme aims to stimulate international connections and creativity, despite the restrictions on movement because of Covid-19. ConnectME is a digital continuation of the Arab British Centre’s Making Marks programme, the recent climax of which was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Find out more about the Arab British Centre’s Making Marks programme:

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact:

Amber Mezbourian, media relations officer: M +44 (0)754 226 9345  | | Twitter: @BCouncil_NI | Facebook: | Instagram: britishcouncilnorthernireland

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 75 million people directly and 758 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 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. 

For more information, please visit: 

About the Arab British Centre

The Arab British Centre is a cultural organisation which works to further understanding of the Arab world in the United Kingdom. We organise and promote cultural and artistic events and host a community of like-minded resident organisations at our central London premises

About Making Marks

Making Marks is the Arab British Centre’s strand of programming, in partnership with the British Council, which focuses on the development of artists from the UK and the Arab World through international exchange programmes, commissions, and opportunities for artistic collaboration.

Making Marks considers the positive impact of international working and exchange, and how it can shape artists and their work. The programme actively challenges stereotypes of our respective cultures and highlights the similarities, differences, and universal challenges facing emerging creatives the world over.

From the end of August, Making Marks commissions will be displayed digitally on

About Ellie Niblock

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 at Ulster University, Belfast, 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. Her work seeks to discover how tactility and digital technology can alter our perception of experiences through sculpture, 3D scanning, animation and sound.

About Alaa Tarabzouni

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.

She has also shown her work AL-SOM at Public/Private, the 2019 summer edition of 21,39 in Jeddah. It considered expropriation and explored the nuanced effects of urban sprawl on public welfare. In 2019, alongside Afia Bin Taleb, she co-curated the group show POACHED, a progressive exhibition of emerging artists alongside established practitioners, many of whom were presented for the first time in the Saudi capital.

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. The meticulous archiving through a tripartite of photographs, film and found objects offers insight into the factory; depicting the heterogeneity that make up its anomalous amity.

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.