Peterborough gallery will showcase work of British Muslims

Aisha Zia credit Maja Daniels
Aisha Zia credit Maja Daniels

A new gallery and social platform in Peterborough showcasing the work of British Muslim artists is all set to launch this weekend.

The programme of exhibitions, talks and events at 62 Gladstone Street is open to all, reflecting on contemporary issues of the day.

It will launch on Saturday, April 13 (2pm to 8pm) with a Q&A with the artists at 4pm, and a live performance from Zia Ahmed at 6.30pm.

Playwright Aisha Zia (pictured), who wrote the award-winning No Guts, No Heart, No Glory with Common Wealth Theatre, will curate visual arts projects for the community reflecting on wider issues affecting Muslims and non-Muslims today.

“We, the collective are interested in the local area, specifically the place that we’re in. We think Peterborough, and Gladstone Street in particular is a really interesting melting pot of different communities coming together, and growing. As artists we want to celebrate that,” she said.

The playwright, who is originally from Peterborough where the new gallery is based, will run the gallery with a collective of local and national artists to inform her new play about masculinity and vulnerability working with British Muslim men.

The new show is being developed with the multi-award winning Good Chance Theatre (The Jungle) and directed by Omar Elerian (2019 Olivier nominated Misty).

Kicking off a series of 2019 exhibitions are Peterborough based multi-award winning advocate, social commentator and creative producer Zain Awan and London/Berlin based artist Kazim Rashid (Pressure Makes Diamonds, Rich Mix 2018) alongside London based poet Zia Ahmed who will create a live performance response to the installed artists on April 13.

Kazim Rashid will exhibit a new, three part body of work which acts as a provocation, forcing us to ask ourselves what’s really going on in our communities.

Kazim is interested in how we demystify each other’s experience, and where the oppression of our values comes from. Part 1 is ‘Self Portrait’, Part 2 is ‘Notes to Self’ series and Part 3 is ‘Home’ which responds to a poem of the same name by Zia Ahmed.

Kazim’s previous work, ‘2001: Pressure Makes Diamonds’, a multiscreen video installation will also be exhibited separately.

Zain Awan will open with Once We Were Too, an ongoing documentation and exhibition of the memories, thoughts and lives of the first wave of Muslim migrants to his home city of Peterborough, these being Pakistani men predominantly from the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan.

Once We Were Too uses poetry and photography to explore the experiences of the first generation - it’s a sincere attempt to present a more authentic picture of a misrepresented community, and to reimagine what places and belongings mean in a modern city, through positioning the people who live in these spaces in the forefront of the discourse. A digital series will be launched to coincide with the exhibition launch.

Autumn 2019 will see Maryam Wahid, the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain 2018 winner, present a selection of her work which focuses on her identity as a South Asian Muslim and on the deep misconceptions around Islam.

Over the next 12 months 62 Gladstone Street will draw on the community through art, workshops, events and talks to try to understand the disparity between cultures, men and women and the intergenerational divide. How do we reconnect, celebrate and stay positive about the future? A big part of the campaign is to also speak to women about masculinity and in the Autumn Aisha has commissioned BJP Award Winner Maryam Wahid to share her portraits of Pakistani Muslim women.

Aisha said of launching 62 Gladstone Street: “As a playwright, I’m curious about the world we live in. I’m interested in real people, real places and real lives. My work comes from a very real place and setting up 62 Gladstone Street in Peterborough, my home town, allows me the opportunity to connect with local people. It also gives the community I’m working with the opportunity to represent themselves, talk about the issues affecting them and what they would like to say.

“Working in this way will allow us to delve deeper into who art is for, and why we make art the way we do.”