Edge of Arabia
Edge of Arabia is an independent arts initiative developing the appreciation of contemporary Arab art and culture with a particular focus on Saudi Arabia. As a social enterprise Edge of Arabia is committed to reaching new audiences and improving understanding through touring, non-commercial & free exhibitions, through publications, and through education programs targeting schools & universities.
The initiative was born from a chance encounter in 2003 between British artist, Stephen Stapleton, and Saudi artists, Ahmed Mater and Abdulnasser Gharem, at the Al Meftaha Arts Village in Abha. It opened its new permanent space including a gallery and library in Battersea, London, in January 2013.
Edge of Arabia officially launched with a major exhibition showcasing 17 artists from Saudi Arabia at London’s Brunei Gallery in October 2008. In just over two months the organizers saw more than 13,000 visitors, breaking the record for attendance at the University of London's largest gallery.
In June 2009, Edge of Arabia travelled to the 53rd Venice Biennale to the Palazzo Contarini Polignac featuring the work of eight Saudi contemporary artists, and continued its world tour with an exhibition entitled Grey Borders/Grey Frontiers in Berlin, its TRANSiTION exhibition in Istanbul, both in 2010, and TERMINAL coinciding with Art Dubai in March 2011. As a collateral Venice Biennale event in 2011, the grassroots initiative further broadened its outreach to produce the first pan-Arab exhibition of contemporary art as part of the 54th Art Biennale: The Future of A Promise.
With its first public show inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Edge of Arabia celebrated its home-coming in an unfinished shopping mall at the Al Furusia Marina with an exhibition entitled Edge of Arabia Jeddah: We Need To Talk. To continue engaging local school and university students in contemporary art from across the region, Edge of Arabia's accompanying art education programme included an art symposium, a dedicated education room with workshop, presentation and research facilities for visitors, guided tours of the exhibition, and practical workshops with participating artists.
On 6 October 2012, Edge of Arabia opened its most ambitious exhibition to date, showcasing large-scale, multi-media work by over 30 leading Arab and Islamic World artists in the heart of creative East London titled #COMETOGETHER. During its three-week duration, the exhibition together with its side programme of educational events including workshops, talks and film screenings attracted over 10,000 visitors.
- Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia, Abdulnasser Gharem
- Asharq Al-Awsat, June 16th 2009, Arabic Coffee and Incense Introduce Saudi Arabian Art to Venice
- Der Tagesspiegel, June 29th 2010, Edge of Arabia zeigt Kunst aus Saudi Arabien
- Ikono.tv, October 19th 2010, Edge of Arabia in Istanbul
- Time Out (company), March 9th 2011, Pioneering art scheme brings Saudi Arabia's contemporary art to the masses
- Financial Times, June 3rd 2011, A spring in their step
- Berlin Art Link, November 5th 2011, "The Future of a Promise" at the 54th Venice Biennale
- The Huffington Post, January 25th 2012, 'We Need To Talk': Saudi Arabia's First Public Contemporary Art Exhibit Tests Governmental Limits
- The New York Times, January 18th 2012, Contemporary Artists Rock the Boat Gently in Saudi Arabia
- The National (Abu Dhabi), January 23rd 2012, Saudi artists find a voice in Edge of Arabia's Jeddah exhibition
- Financial Times, October 19th 2012, An exhibition of the lesser known side of Middle East art comes to London’s East End