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All the latest news regarding events, exhibitions and opportunities. Featuring behind the scenes, Q&A’s and more

The Story Behind ‘A Colour of Time’ – A new work by Nadia Kaabi-Linke


The first UK solo show by Nadia Kaabi-Linke, The Future Rewound & The Cabinet of Souls, features a number of specially commissioned works which were inspired by the history of the building which houses The Mosaic Rooms. The discovery that more than a century ago the building served as a home for Imre Kiralfy provided the starting point for our research. This led to a number of fascinating discoveries and in turn helped provide the premise for the exhibition as a reflection on the last hundred years and the structures of power that thread colonialism and capitalism.

grand room

The search for the story behind Tower House of Cromwell Road unearthed a number of fascinating and forgotten stories. With the help of curators from the Museum of London, an overlooked photo album was uncovered featuring images of the building unveiling what the rooms looked like when it served as the domicile of Imre Kiralfy. These images also revealed a wonderfully ornate ceiling mural painted in the Grand Room.


Architectural cross section examinations revealed that layers of paint from Kirafy’s time still existed.Despite the murals being lost it was discovered that the ceiling rose had been gilded and that traces of the gold still exist. This discovery directly inspired Nadia Kaabi-Linke’s new work, A Colour of Time.

cross section

During her residency at The Mosaic Rooms, Nadia Kaabi-Linke has been chipping away samples from the ceiling rose to reveal the gold leaf but also to form the pigment for this new work. A Colour of Time thus visualises the layers of time of the building’s history.

Follow us on Instagram where we will be sharing daily posts revealing the fascinating stories and images our research into the history of our building.



A Colour of Time will be on show at The Mosaic Rooms as part of Nadia Kaabi-Linke’s exhibition The Future Rewound & The Cabinet of Souls from 10 October to 29 November 2014.

Images courtesy of Museum of London and Helen Hughes. 

Saadi Youssef


It was an honour to have one of the most important contemporary poets in the Arab world, Saadi Youssef at The Mosaic Rooms. If you missed the evening launching his new seven volume collection you can now see it in full below.

Opportunity: Shubbak Festival Director



The Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture is seeking a new Festival Director to lead and oversee the next edition of the festival in 2015.

Shubbak was originally launched as an initiative of the Mayor of London in July 2011 and was London’s first ever festival of contemporary Arab culture, encompassing film, dance, theatre, poetry, literature and the visual arts. Since then, it has been set up as a charity and has run a second edition in 2013.

The founding Festival Director has now stepped aside and the board are seeking a dynamic replacement who can continue to provide leadership and direction for the continuing success of the festival.

The next festival will run from 11 – 25 July 2015. The new Festival Director will be expected to work closely with the Artistic Director, who is responsible for developing the programme content.

Application Deadline Friday May 2 2014 at 6pm.

Find out more here

Here’s a taster of The Mosaic Rooms’ new book, Mogadishu – Lost Moderns, by Rashid Ali and Andrew Cross



Foreword, by Omar Al-Qattan

‘Beware of saying to them that sometimes different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication among themselves. At times even the names of the inhabitants remain the same, and their voices’ accent, and also the features of their faces; but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place.’1 Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, pp 30-31

The Mosaic Rooms are delighted to present Mogadishu – Lost Moderns, as part of Disappearing Cities of the Arab World, an ambitious cultural programme of exhibitions, talks and screening vcxzs, focused on the destruction of Arab urban life in the post-colonial age.

The city is the space where civic life becomes possible; where the tribal, ethnic or confessional divisions of the peoples who settle in it can potentially dissolve and mutate into unfamiliar forms of social order governed by new rules and customs. The city is also a centre of resistance to the invader and of rebellion against injustice. In it also lovers will meet anonymously, discovering new spaces in the imagination that would have been unthinkable in the countryside or desert, and developing new kinds of relationships. The city transforms our perceptions of childhood; our experiences of light and sound, of space and perspective, and of the past, present and future.

But cities are also great betrayers of their own inhabitants, repositories of vermin and dirt and pollution, as well as theatres of chaos, civil war and massacre. In the contemporary Arab world, cities have often been profoundly deceitful—promising lawfulness, peace, equality and freedom only to turn into prisons and traps for the unsuspecting citizen, who is often chased out from them or persecuted for the language he speaks or the God she worships (or indeed the one she repudiates).

Jaffa, Beirut, Lydd, Baghdad, Cairo, Aleppo, Homs, Tripoli (Libya and Lebanon), Kuwait City, Jerusalem, Mogadishu—these cities have, to varying degrees of course, undergone terrible destruction and violence in the post-colonial age, bearing witness to what can only be described as a failure of the civic project. Other cities are tragically promised similar fates…

Our programme explores the histories and consequences of this failure through art, architecture, literature, music and cinema. Far from a merely academic or nostalgic reflection on the processes that have led to this failure, we examine how the inhabitants of modern-day Arab cities have continued to resist the breakdown or destruction of their environments through civic projects or artistic expression—or simply through an improbable love affair!

The Programme opened in Spring 2013 with Dor Guez’s show 40 DAYS, focussed on the remaining Palestinian minority in the previously Palestiniancity of Lydd, almost completely depopulated in the 1948 war by the invading Israeli forces. Earlier in 2014, we featured two exhibitions on Baghdad, including a homage to its cultural hub at Al-Mutanabbi Street, which was devastated by a bomb in 2007. Spring 2014 hosted Mogadishu-Lost Moderns an exhibition looking at the past, present, and potential future of the Somali capital city.Other talks, lectures and readings within this programme will attempt to throw light on the continuing tragedies tearing apart the region’s societies where they are most intensely gathered: in the urban space.

This book accompanies The Mosaic Rooms’ current exhibition Mogadishu – Lost Moderns (on show until 26 April 2014). Find out about the exhibition here.

Buy the book in The Mosaic Rooms online bookshop here.

I Dare You by Stephanie Sauer

I DARE YOU is my hymn to each and every page, person, symbol, codex, mural, tapestry, scroll, carving and oral account throughout history that has been banned, shamed, destroyed or subverted. Each collaged image is a surviving piece of a work or a culture or a tradition whose destruction was attempted or achieved. Somehow, always, these pieces survive or are remade.

The cities and dates spoken in the film are sites at which books were burned or otherwise destroyed throughout known history. I wanted to not only link them, but to point out that these attempts are not ends. That such targeted works and ideas do in fact continue on, even if they take different forms.

So, destroy this book. Drown it. Question its legitimacy, relevancy, need. Strike a match and light this book aflame.

[Made for the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project by Stephanie Sauer]

Kibbeh al-hammam: Burghol & Tomato Kibbeh Recipe


Hammam literally means bath and this dish was traditionally prepared for the special journey when men and women would set out to have their bodies cleansed and purified. They would also spend hours gossiping and discussing the topics of the day. Bath were particularly important to the Romans and the Byzantines, and remained so for the Arabs and the Turks.

This dish is delicious and makes and excellent starter for 5 people of a hungry 4. It also presents beautifully in a buffet. It has become one of my favourites.


150g onion, finely chopped

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped teaspoon of tomato puree

170g fine burghol

4 large ripe tomatoes (675g) peeled and finely chopped

1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste

1-2 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup

a large handful of parsley, chopped

2 spring onions (55g) finely sliced

the seeds of one whole sour or semi-sour pomegranate

Combine the onions, olive oil and tomato puree in a small bowl and set to one side. Place the burghol in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of water, cover with the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt. Add the onion mixture to the burghol, along with the pomegranate syrup. Knead and mix with your fingers and palm until all the ingredients come together.

To serve, place on a serving dish and smooth, garnish with parsley, spring onion and pomegranate seeds, Serve with lettuce.

Recipe taken from Nada Saleh’s award winning book ‘Seductive Flavours of the Levant’.

Advice To Young Writers From Abdellatif Laâbi

It was a great honour to host the Moroccan poet, novelist, translator and political activist Abdellatif Laâbi at The Mosaic Rooms earlier this year. Here is the wonderful advice he had for young writers.

This blog post is from December 2013. 


-Be loyal to writing every day and accept its every demand.

-It must be central to your life and you must organise your life around it.

-Respect its values.

-Constant alertness.

-Constant persistence.

-Honesty with yourself as a precondition for honesty with others.

-The question that must remain superior to the answer.

-Tenderness towards wounding words.

-Don’t listen to loud and passing waves.

-Don’t worry about being retrograde.

-Avoid power in whatever form it comes.

-And if it tries to suck you in, resist it at any cost.

-You need to read twice as much as you write.

-Dictionaries are only cemeteries of words. But plant life in them.

-Be careful of ready language.

-Don’t sell it.

-But fight it in order to create your own private and personal language.

-Avoid poeticism if you are a poet.

-And do not abandon your poeticism if you are a novelist.

-Be your most severe critic.

-Look at what you write as a very modest piece of writing ready to be shared.

-Consider it a public property and not your own personal property.

-Don’t remain a prisoner of your environment.

-Go out, leave, and take your distance.

-Don’t respect borders and be not afraid of being lost.

-The earth all together is your homeland and all of humanity is your people.

-And everything you do and wherever you go do not forget where you came from.

-The earth, the mother that brought you to life, your human descendancy.

-Even if you become an old man don’t waste the child that you were once nor the dreams of youth.

The Mosaic Rooms is five today!

To commemorate the occasion Omar Al-Qattan, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, A.M. Qattan Foundation, reflects on the gallery’s core values and achievements in its first five years in operation… and tells you a bit about what’s in store for 2014!


Q1/ What led to the birth of The Mosaic Rooms?  

A desire to create an independent, multi-format platform for Arabic culture in London which is free to explore new and uncharted territories and taboo ideas!

Q2/ Why London, not New York or Dubai, for instance?

I would love to be in all those places as well but to answer your question, London is probably the most important cultural city in the world at the moment; has a very dynamic Arab diaspora; and has very old ties to the Arab World, even if many of them have not always been very savoury…

Q3/ How is the Mosaic Rooms highlighting aspects about Arab culture that are usually ignored by the foreign media?

We programme our shows and events quite thematically, around issues we think are important or topical to all who are interested in the region, but in an in-depth way designed to stimulate discussion and debate rather than around news. We also try to showcase younger voices and not only well-established ones. The focus on culture helps shift the focus away from sensational news to a more profound and, hopefully, sympathetic understanding of the wonders, struggles and genius of the region.

Q4/ Without the Mosaic Rooms, what would not have been possible?

Perhaps nothing would have been impossible as such but I think that having pioneered a multi-format programme focussed on Arab culture in as wide and inclusive a spirit as possible, we set a precedent and caused something of a tidal wave – but then that’s the beauty of culture! Since then, many others have started to do projects along these lines and we now have a really lively Arab cultural scene in London! I just hope it does not get too drowned in commercial fluff!

Q5/ What are the things that the Mosaic Rooms is proudest about (milestones, collaborations, cultural exchanges …)

The height should perhaps be reserved for our Adonis week in early 2012, but we have been honoured by many other wonderful artists, poets, writers, filmmakers and musicians as well – too many to name all of them! We were also very proud to be part of the 2011 Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture launched by the Mayor and to be its principle funder in 2013. We have also been loyal partners of the Kensington and Chelsea Nour Festival

Q6/ What’s next for the Disappearing Cities program?

Our Mogadishu-Lost Moderns show in April 2014

Q7/ What is the Mosaic Rooms looking forward to in 2014?

Our first Somali-focussed show; a season focussed on up and coming Algerian artists; a Nadia Kaabi-Linke and Tunisia focussed season; and our first show curated by an external curator.

Q&A taken from a recent interview with Curve Magazine.

“Yet the horizon is so free, it exists no longer”



I made these 63 drawings in a state of great paralysis this July in Beirut

Today, this paralysis is that of the entire world

Paralysis of meaning

Paralysis of thought

Yet the horizon is so free, it exists no longer

Yes I want to show intimacy in my drawings

The intimacy of the fear of others

Of that which is afraid to appear

Don’t consider the one who looks like a voyeur, for through his vision he completes

the form to be seen

Taking shape until infinity, at that same moment when the seeing and the blind eye

Exchange a look

My fingers’ nervousness creates the invisible

Emptiness and silence offer up movement

With the urgency to draw

My head detaches itself from the rest

And emptiness comes to me

And to the other, words


London, October 2013

Lawand: Equinox, From Beirut to London is now on at The Mosaic Rooms.

Open Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm, Entrance Free

This exhibition is part of the Nour Festival of Arts

Associated events include: Poetry From Art-Writing the Body workshop, and Art & Poetry artist’s talk.

Open Call: Exhibition Proposals for Summer 2014

Application deadline 2nd September

The Mosaic Rooms is pleased to announce an Open Call for Exhibition Proposals for Summer 2014 from a curator or curatorial collective. The call is thematically open but proposals should reflect The Mosaic Rooms’ aim to highlight some of the most exciting and progressive voices from the region. For further information and application form please click here.

The selected proposal will be announced on 27th September 2013.

The Mosaic Rooms Summer Sale

This summer The Mosaic Rooms Bookshop is offering a 20% discount on all titles in the bookshop.

We’ve put together a small selection of modern Arabic literature titles that are part of our bookshop summer sale and priced at £5. Discover some of the most important writers in the Arab world. Download our selections here.

Visit our online store here.


*Sale must end August 16 2013.

HOME: a project for young people in the RBKC

This summer the Mosaic Rooms is running HOME,  a project with artist duo kennardphillipps for young people aged 14-21 in the Royal Borough of Kensington of Chelsea.

Artwork arising from the project will be exhibited in a public exhibition at The Mosaic Rooms, 13-21 September 2013

Click here for more information and to get involved!

Job Opportunity at The Mosaic Rooms

The Mosaic Rooms/AM Qattan Foundation is looking for a part time Press & Marketing Coordinator, who will be responsible for the execution of press and marketing campaigns for our programme of exhibitions, events, collaborations and commercial activities.

We are accepting applications from 13.02.13. Please send a CV and covering letter to info@mosaicrooms.org by 21.02.13

Read the full job description here


Rawan Yaghi awarded Jesus College Oxford Junior Members’ Scholarship

Jesus College, University of Oxford, has awarded Rawan Yaghi the Junior Members’ Scholarship to pursue an undergraduate degree in Italian and Linguistics.

Rawan Yaghi, who lives in Gaza, was a member at the Qattan Centre for the Child, where she used online resources to start her own blog. In 2011, her love of writing and languages led her to start a degree in English Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.

The JCJM is a full academic scholarship supported by undergrad and postgrad students at the College, the Governing Body of Jesus College, the Hoping Foundation, the A.M. Qattan Foundation, and the Hani Qaddumi Scholarship Foundation. Read the press release.

Tina Gharavi nominated for BAFTA

Last of the Dictionary Men director Tina Gharavi has been nominated for a BAFTA for her film ‘I Am Nasrine‘, in the category: ‘Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer’.

Starring Shiraz Haq and Micsha Sadeghi, I Am Nasrine is a coming of age teen drama that tells the story of a young woman who is doing her best to understand herself, find a better world and to deal with the consequences of the politics around her.

Project patron, Sir Ben Kingsley called I Am Nasrine “an important and much needed film.”

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