Syrian Civil War: Artists Displaced By Conflict Find Refuge (And Beauty) In Lebanese Artists’ Colony
ARA is a dynamic space for communication and creation. It is a collective community of eclectic forms of expression. We offer residency and commission artistic projects for young Syrian artists.
“With this war, Syria’s artists don’t have an emotional or physical place to work, so I offer them this,” said Raghad Mardini, a Syrian single mother of four and an accomplished civil engineer with a predilection for art. She renovated the stable in 2011 for this purpose, and runs the residency program for displaced and fleeing Syrian artists. So far she has hosted 24 artists, two at a time each month.
The Founder’s Vision
"The project arose out of my lifelong passion for a particular creative atmosphere I discovered years ago in the studios and ateliers of Damascus, an artistic eco-system which I lived and breathed and which produced so many of my favourite artists, many of them friends. The stables at Aley were a relic from the Civil War, which I found unloved like the walnut tree suffering sadly in the grounds.
As a civil engineer, I saw the opportunity to turn the stables into something beautiful and also symbolic: ruined and in trouble but still possessing an inner beauty it was impossible to mistake, and which the right amount of love and energy could revive into something productive and new. It’s a space of freedom and hope for every young Syrian artist.”