Impressions from an Archive installation view. Exhibition Research Lab, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2022. Courtesy of LJMU.

Jessica El Mal, Grounds for Concern. Installation image. Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021. Image courtesy of Andrew Wilson.

Yasmin Ali, OUTPUT Gallery. Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2019. Courtesy of Julia Thorne. 

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival

My current position is Festival Programme Manager at Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.

Founded in 1998, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation and registered charity delivering arts and community programmes that bring diverse cultures together, increasing appreciation and awareness of Arab culture and arts at a local, national and international level.

Each year, we bring a thrilling celebration of Arab culture to venues across the city and showcases the richness of Arab culture through a packed programme of visual art, music, dance, film, theatre, literature and special events.

Each year we have the honour of commissioning new work across art forms, and supporting and platforming exciting Arab creatives based in the UK and internationally.

I am currently working on a major international touring visual arts project Port Cities between Liverpool, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, and supported by the British Council.

And still, it remains is a newly commissioned film by the artist filmmakers Arwa Aburawa and Turab Shah for LAAF 2023. Between 1960 and 1966, France tested and detonated a series of nuclear bombs in the Algerian desert. These explosions poisoned the land with radioactive material, inflicting devastating – and permanent – ecological and humanitarian harm. In 2021, radioactive sand from the Sahara was blown from the Algerian desert back to France by sweeping winds. This meteorological event served as a reminder that the environmental legacies of colonialism cannot be forgotten or contained.

2022 marked 20 years since the first Liverpool Arab Arts Festival was held in the city. Visual art commissions included Hannaa Hamadache’s new video work Father Tongue. The main visual art exhibition was Impressions from An Archive; an international collaboration between LAAF, the Arab Image Foundation and Beirut Printmaking Studio, and Liverpool John Moores Exhibition Research Lab. The festival was held in Thursday 7 – Sunday 17 July 2022.

Our 2021 festival was an artist-led response to the complexities of the climate emergency in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region today. It ran from 16 July – 14 November 2021. A highlight was Jessica El Mal’s Grounds for Concern project was installed outside Open Eye Gallery. The installation questions the concept of land ownership and the true boundaries that are enforced by human-made borders

In response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, we repurposed our annual festival to hold our first digital festival (9 – 18 July 2021)

The theme for the 2019 festival was Shadow and Light. Inspired by the UK premiere of Beau Beausoleil’s reaffirming exhibition Shadow and Light, which we brings to the Baltic Triangle’s Northern Lights hub (6 – 14 July). The theme addresses how society must reflect on all aspects of lived experience to explore where we are.