Why this artist-run studio and exhibition space is a must-visit
Bait 15 is an artist-run studio that should be on your radar
Outside of the commercial world of art fairs and galleries, places where creative people can gather are few and far between in the capital. That’s why Bait 15 is a really important addition to the cultural landscape of Abu Dhabi. It is an artist-run studio and exhibition space founded by Maitha Abdalla, originally from Khorfakkan; Afra Al Dhaheri, from Abu Dhabi; Hashel Al Lamki, from Al Ain. The three young Emirati artists wanted somewhere they could spend their time making art but also, where they could exchange ideas and inspiration and get their creative juices flowing. WHERE? Bait 15 – which means House 15 in Arabic – is located inside a former residential home, which is important to the ethos of the place. It is owned by Nawaf Al Janahi, one of the UAE’s foremost filmmakers, whose father (the previous owner) was an actor and its former tenant was Mohammed Al Mazrouie, a prominent visual artist. Located in the Alzafaranah district (the neighbourhood next to the Al Bahr towers, or the pineapple buildings), WHAT? Bait 15 consists of five rooms: three studios, a communal area and a library stocking English and Arabic books. As well as a working space for the three artists, the communal area has a number of different functions. It can act as a gallery, a space for film screenings or music nights and in Ramadan, a place for suhoor dinner. There is also a regular residency programme meaning that anyone can apply to use the space and the resources for a two-month period. WHY? These kinds of non-profit and multifunctional spaces are essential building blocks of any art scene. Practically, artists need places to create but they also need a sense of community and to drive each other forward during their process.