Karen Babayan’s artist residency at Centrala, part of the ‘Hybrid Landscapes’ programme, funded by Arts Council England featured the captivating exhibition “Out of the Ruins” and a series of engaging community workshops. Running from April 24th to May 25th the exhibition explored themes of displacement, hybrid identities, and cultural resilience, drawing deeply from Babayan’s Eastern European and Middle Eastern heritage, particularly her Armenian roots.

The exhibition showcased a variety of works, from colourful early career paintings to installations of found objects that narrated the history and vibrancy of Eastern European cultures. Babayan emphasised community engagement, expressing heartfelt gratitude: “An exhibition means nothing without people. It’s the community that makes it a living, cultural experience. I’m so grateful for all who came to see the show, took part in events, and put their trust in me so that we could create something strong, beautiful, and meaningful together.”

Highlighting the interactive aspect of her residency, Babayan conducted several workshops. The first workshop encouraged participants to explore their identity and heritage through visual and written narratives, experimenting with different forms of book-making, from simple folded pages to complex structures like the concertina or flower fold book.

Another notable workshop was the “Food Stories & Armenian Folk Dance” session, led by renowned dance artist Shakeh Major Tchilingirian. Held on May 12th, this workshop combined the expressive power of Armenian folk dance with personal and communal narratives tied to food, offering a rich, immersive cultural experience.

A significant event during the residency was the film screening of “Taniel” on May 25th. This award-winning cinematic tribute to Armenian poet Taniel Varoujan, presented in a Film Noir style, was followed by a poetry reading and discussion with Karen Babayan, Director Garo Berberian and Producer Tatevik Ayvazyan.

Together, these workshops, the film screening, and the exhibition “Out of the Ruins” showcased Karen Babayan’s artistry and fostered a deep, meaningful dialogue about identity, belonging, and resilience within the community at Centrala.