Soul City Arts | Mohammed Ali | Aerasol Arabic

Soul City Arts / Mark Gonzales UK Tour

Between October 29th and Nov 4th, Soul City Arts had the pleasure of hosting poet Mark Gonzales to the UK. Mark is a resident artist of Soul City Arts and is a strong advocate for the work we deliver in the UK.  His dedicated page can be seen on the Soul City Arts website>>  Earlier in the year, we had already hosted Mark for a performance, so we jumped at the opportunity to give him a nationwide audience, even at such short notice.  We arranged performances and Q&A sessions at the Rich Mix arts centre  in London,  a performance at the University of Liverpool and an intimate session at The Hubb Arts Centre in Birmingham.  Marketing for the event at the Rich Mix began only 6 days before the event itself but we quickly managed to sell out and fil the theatre space.  Through a dedicated team who really believed in Mark Gonzales it was only a matter of time before the whole of London was talking about this exciting artist delivering an impromptu tour of the UK. People described how they had received emails and text messages from four or five independent sources – it was clear that Soul City Arts had caused a little storm by bringing Mark Gonzales!  With the addition of Rafeef Ziadah – an outspoken Palestinian poet, at the RIch Mix – this event was sure to bring the house down.

Here are some pix from the Rich Mix event courtesy of Nurain Jamal:

The following is a summary of one audience member Nafisah Kara, who shares her experience on the event at the Rich Mix:

‘The event held at Rich Mix hosted by Soul City Arts was truly moving! I must say it was one of the first Poetry nights I have been too but definitely won’t be the last. The performances by MG and Rafeef blew me away with Mark’s focus on cultural and social balance, complemented with an often bullet statement, one of my favourites being, ‘Dear Columbus, you cannot discover a land 70,000 people are living on’! An array of emotions emerged from the audience during the event. Sometimes laughter, followed by tears, followed by rage all resulting in two: inspiration and mobilization. How can it be that in one evening you can feel so liberated, so alive?

The audience was diverse, ethnically, religiously, politically, but that just made the night full of beauty as we all came together and related to common points and interests. The word ‘humanity’ was demonstrated in this event as the audience were like one heartbeat at times responding to the cutting edge emotive performances by Mark and Rafeef, both two completely different styles of eloquence, both so powerful and moving.

As the event was titled, A conversation with MG and Rafeef we had an opportunity to ask some questions on any issues we thought were relevant and a range of topics were discussed including the US Election, identity, and resistance. This was interesting to gain a deeper understanding on the different methods of mobilizing or making a difference to the political and social issues we all face.

Soul City Arts did a great job putting this event together, and the venue was spot on. Rich Mix was comfy, quirky and fit the topic and atmosphere of the event perfectly. I was quite impressed with the technological side of things. The iPad check-in system was professional, and I’ve never seen anything like it at an event! There was not a single technical hiccup, which made it all the more relaxed to kick back and enjoy.

Considering that Soul City Arts put this event together in a ruthless few days I thought it was epic. I will definitely be attending more events arranged by Soul City Arts, its original, eccentric, innovative and a local home grown ambition which I would love to be a part of. I’m already browsing the website and Facebook page for the next events and God Willing will stay connected!’

Following the sucess of the Rich Mix  event, an impromptu event took place at the Hubb in Birmingham, with just one 10 hours notice, an intimate audience came together for a Q&A and performance. Pictures can be seen here courtesy of Salshan Photography

Finally a video shot with Mark outside Wembley Arena, on his thoughts of the work that Soul City Arts is delivering:

Mark Gonzales back in the UK @ Rich Mix / London


Mark Gonzales is a poet & innovator who uses culture to leverage social power. He is back in the UK after popular demand. Described as Khalil Gibran meets Pablo Neruda, his work spans fifteen countries in under ten years. His methods on using language to heal trauma has earned him global recognition that include visiting professor residencies at Stanford University, and speaking to the United Nations. He is a lover of Islam and the Indigenous, and represents both.

He is one of the only living poets to trend worldwide on twitter.

Mark will perform and be part of a dialogue/Q&A session, along with guest Rafeef Ziadah, a Palestinian poet now based in London.
Host for the conversation will be Hassan Mahamdallie, Senior Diversity Strategy at the Arts Council England.Monday 29th October 2012 / 7.30pm-9.30pmRich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London, E1 6LAmore info contact:

Tickets £8 / buy online: or available on the door
official Facebook event page:

Acclaimed Graffiti Artist takes on the Olympics

Graffiti art mural sets to unite disparate communities

Internationally acclaimed graffiti artist Mohammed Ali has painted an art mural in London on Leyton High Road from 10am-5pm. The mural has brought local young people from the Leyton area together to create a thought-provoking piece of public art, minutes away from London’s Olympic stadium.

Leyton High Road has already been in the media spotlight for sprucing up its shop-fronts in time for the London 2012 Olympics. The East End has also been accused of wiping out its vibrant street art because of it being considered low brow.  Mohammed Ali’s art with its uplifting message seeks to challenge that perception, as he says “street art brings life to the concrete jungles that we live in”.

The British-born artist has produced murals in New York, Chicago, Melbourne and Dubai.  The South Bank Award winner has been featured on Al-Jazeera, BBC, New York Times and many others prestigious publications.  He says of the upcoming project:

 “The world might have come together for the Olympics but this time last year London was a place of riots and factions, this project is a perfect opportunity to transcend class, race, and faith to bring all peoples together through art. I didn’t want to paint just a nice pretty mural about the Olympics, but wanted to ask important questions and make people think.”

 “He is a graffiti artist who uses his work to intertwine the old and the new…his work has been dubbed ‘urban spiritual art’ was originally street based but now hangs in galleries all over the world…he is heralded as a bridge of understanding”  Freema Agyeman, South Bank Show Awards 2009.

The large scale project funded by Near Neighbours, involves  young people from youth organisation Adventure Quest, Leyton Scouts and arts organisation Soul City Arts.  The mural is located on the corner of Huxley Road and Leyton High Road, on the side of the Kebabish Original Restaurant.

A feature in the Waltham Forest Guardian newspaper:

For more info contact:  Tam Hussein / 07982996790

A picture of the wall to be painted:




Pictures of the completed mural showing the process from beginning to end:

Cambridge University Interfaith Summer School

International world faith leaders from countries including Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Tanzania, Oman, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Europe and the United States visited the Hubb Arts Centre in Birmingham as part of a hosted tour to the city organised by Soul City Arts in partnership with the Cambridge University Interfaith Summer School programme.

As part of the itinerary the delegates were welcomed to the city by Soul City Arts Artistic Director Mohammed Ali. During their visit to the city the delegates were introduced to some of the work Soul City Arts has delivered at a national and international level as well as the programme of activity delivered at the Hubb Arts Centre a unique and intimate space in the heart of one of Birmingham’s most diverse neighbourhoods.

Delegates were also given a first hand opportunity to embrace the unique culture of the city through a pre arranged Soul City Arts bus tour which introduced delegates to some of Mohammed’s numerous street murals across the city as well as a guided tour of culturally diverse neighbourhoods including a visit to the famous BSA factory in Small Heath. As part of the trip delegates also had an opportunity to both participate and observe the traditional Friday prayer at a local mosque.


Giant Olympic graffiti mural in Birmingham!