Two BCU Visual Communication Alumni team up for exhibition


Two BCU graduates have collaborated on an art exhibition which is currently on tour at Handsworth library, inspired by its users.

BCU Visual Communication graduates Maryam Wahid and Haseebah Ali have teamed up for the exhibition ‘Dreams of Brum’, which depicts 16 members of the Handsworth community who regularly access the Warm Welcome space and take part in group activities at the library.

Maryam and Haseebah worked closely with the members to get a better understanding of daily life and culture in Handsworth and on the Soho Road. They wanted to focus particularly on mature users of the library as they are “not showcased as much in the arts.”

Award-winning alumna Maryam Wahid, who studied Visual Communication and specialised in Photography, is a Birmingham-based artist whose photography explores themes of identity, home and belonging. She’s won many prestigious awards, including the ‘Portrait of Britain’ by British Journal of Photography, and has been commissioned by The Guardian, The Financial Times and The Telegraph.

In 2020, Maryam was a judge on ‘Hold Still’, a photography competition which was spearheaded by the Duchess of Cambridge and led by the National Portrait Gallery and in 2021, she was an expert in the BBC Four series ‘The Great British Photography Challenge’.

Of the 16 portraits, eight are encased in a decorative mount created by Visual Communication alumna Haseebah, who specialised in Illustration during her time at BCU. The mounts were hand-printed using lino stamps that were cut and designed by members and staff of the library during printing sessions facilitated by Haseebah.

The exhibition is also accompanied by a free activity pack that was created by Haseebah. Created for use at school or at home, the artist-educator included art activities and discussion points for thinking and talking about art in relation to global cultures and environments.

‘Dreams of Brum’ was previously shown at the Ikon Gallery last year as part of the Migrant Festival 2023. It has now gone on tour to Handsworth library, the location that acted as the inspiration for the project. The exhibition has been organised in partnership with Handsworth Library and is supported by Birmingham City Council’s Cultural Development service.

The graduates, who both completed their studies in 2018, met on the course, but ‘Dreams of Brum’ is the first time they have collaborated on a project. On the inspiration for the project, Haseebah said they wanted to “showcase the life and people behind Handsworth library.”

“We wanted to build genuine connections and uplift the framework that was already at the library, there just needed to be a platform to do it, which was the project.”

“I hope people seeing the exhibition can either see themselves or see someone that they know in the portraits. The work brings a sense of joy and I hope they can feel that.”

The exhibition runs at Handsworth Library until 31 March.

You can find out more about the exhibition here

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