Litehouse Gallery was founded in London in 2017 by Raghad Mardini in order to nurture, represent and promote emerging Syrian contemporary artists, to create a hub for Syrian artists in the UK, and encourage new forms of cultural exchange between Syrian and British artists.
We fill the gap in the representation of Syrian art in UK private galleries, which exists even though it is highly appreciated in auction houses, and many public institutions are acquiring such artworks. As well as serving as a commercial pop-up art gallery, we organise talks, workshops and non-commercial exhibitions, where artists can voice their beliefs and concerns, and impact the British art scene. Using our extensive network and relationships with contemporary Syrian artists, we engage in new ideas, perspectives and audiences.
Litehouse Gallery evolved from the Art Residence Aley (ARA), an NGO founded by Mardini in 2012 in Beirut. Many Syrian artists who had fled to Lebanon were unable to continue their practice due to trauma and financial hardship. At ARA for a month they had bed, board, space, freedom, and all the materials to enable them to make art again. The gallery continues the work and ethos of the residency by serving displaced Syrian artists.
This project received praise from multiple national and international organisations, such as the UNHCR United Nations Refugee Agency, the CKU Centre for Culture and Development, the AFAC Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and The British Council. Works created by the artists-in-residence were shown in exhibitions in Lebanon, Kuwait, Germany and the United States. In 2014 a documentary movie about ARA titled Art of Resilience was released, and is available from the Arab Film Distribution company. In 2015 Mr. António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations visited, and with his support the Residency published Syrian Art in Hard Times: 2012-2015 (ISBN: 9789953033051).
2017 marked the official splitting of Mrs Mardini and Art Residence Aley and her founding of Litehouse Gallery, though she is still in close connection with ARA and it remains active. Since coming to London our founder has exhibited or spoken at numerous events to showcase contemporary Syrian art such as; the Arab Women Artists Now festival at Rich Mix, London, UK, the Arab Refugee crisis in the 21st Century conference at Duke University, USA, the World Day for Peace exhibition at CapKuwait, Kuwait and the Curate Syria event in Nara, Japan.