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New immersive art installation offers glimpse into life of Bangladeshi community living around 1970's Brick Lane

BD 50 overview

Young people from the borough took part in workshops to create their own wallpaper which is part of the fabric of the artwork

A multi-sensory art installation is coming to Brick Lane from Friday 26 November to Tuesday 14 December 2021. 

The installation forms part of Tower Hamlets Council’s series of Bangladesh at 50 events, which began in March 2021, marking the fiftieth anniversary of Bangladesh’s creation and independence.  

The council has commissioned acclaimed local artist Rahemur Rahman to create My Home, My Bari, which will take visitors back in time using smells, sights and textures to bring history to life through a representation of the living spaces of the British-Bangladeshi community around Brick Lane in 1971, as conflict raged at home. 

The artwork is the result of a nine-month participatory project with artists, young people, and local business owners. Young people from the borough took part in summer workshops to create their own wallpaper which is part of the fabric of the artwork. Local business owners from the British-Bangladeshi community have also shared their stories as part of the wider project.  

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:  “We are proud to be supporting an extensive and varied programme of events throughout 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh. My Home, My Bari is an innovative way to shed light on the legacy and impact of independence on the east London community, 50 years ago, and today. I encourage visitors from all backgrounds to see and experience this extraordinary work.” 

Councillor Sabina Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Sport, said: “Our commemorative programme of events celebrating Bangladesh continues to be exciting and insightful. The opening of this ‘front room’ installation gives the public another opportunity to learn about life in the borough’s Bangladeshi community in the 1970’s.” 

Firmly established in the local economy and tight-knit community of Brick Lane, interviews with and photographic portraits of these participants helped realise the concepts of a sense of place, a sense of belonging and a legacy through the unveiling of their current lives, livelihoods and traditions.  

The installation allows visitors to discover local stories and a sense of place around Brick Lane through a walking tour of participating businesses. Follow the trail of vinyl stickers or QR codes in windows to discover more about the local testimonies.  There are also opportunities to hear discussions about the how the project came about, the art scene in Bangladesh, and the abstract notions of home and homeland. Fifteen restaurants will take part in A Bangla Food Festival in Brick Lane starting on 4 December, as part of the trail, offering traditional Bangladeshi dishes alongside their regular menu. 

Collaboration with Rahemur Rahman provided an added reach through his history with council run youth arts group ‘A’ Team Arts and his passionate aim to provide young people with a voice, a sense of ownership and opportunities for attainment.   

Artist Rahemur Rahman said:  “For several decades, Brick Lane and the surrounding area have been central to the diversity and dynamism of east London, as well as the evolution of a multicultural Britain.   

“My Home, My Bari is meaningful, evocative, hyperlocal and a brilliant way to encourage debate as well as connect audiences and communities who are currently excluded from meaningful participation in the arts.  

“The project also recognises the importance of events which took place in 1971 but takes a step back to re-examine the era and bring it closer to home through the multi-layered connections and cultural connotations of the safe and familiar space of ‘home’.”  

Notes to editors 

The installation deliberately concludes on 14 December, which is known as Martyred Intellectual’s Day in Bangladesh, remembering those were where killed by Pakistani forces during the 1971 Liberation War. Two days later, 16 December, is celebrated as Victory Day, marking the end of the nine-month conflict in 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan. 

Exhibition opening times 

Kobi Nazrul Centre, 30 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR 

26 November - 5 December:  open from 11am to 6pm 

6 - 7 December:  group tours/school bookings only 

8 – 14 December:  open from 11am to 6pm 

Salons at 4, 5, 11 December at 4.30pm 

Find out more about the accompanying food festival at www.bricklaneeats.co.uk 

Lead Artist: Born in Tower Hamlets, Rahemur Rahman currently resides and works in Poplar. His studio is run in partnership with the Centre for Fashion Enterprise, University of the Arts London, Poplar HARCA, Fashion District, and The Trampery. Rahemur Rahman was one of nine finalists for the British Fashion Council’s Changemakers Prize in 2021, as well as being awarded ‘Outstanding Achievement in the Fashion Industry’ by the British Bangladeshi Fashion Council.  

As a creative studio they have participated in the following shows: London Fashion Week Men’s 2019 (Autumn/Winter), International Fashion Showcase 2019, London Fashion Week Men’s 2019 (Spring/Summer), Fashion Revolution x Fashion Open Studio 2019/2020/2021, Fashion Open Studio x COP26 x British Textile Biennale 2021, Fashion Masculinities at the Victoria and Albert Museum 2022.  

My Home, My Bari has been a collective experience for all the team to ensure visitors have a full 360 experience of what it means to be British Bangladeshi in Brick Lane.  

Project partners are Rebecca Chester and Kazi Ruksana Begum. Participating artists include Lily Vetch, Joygun Begum, Ezra-Lloyd Jackson, Laisul Hoque, Musarrat Rahman, Kois Miah, Junna Begum, Samuel Gosling of Lonely Pony Studio and Justin Moore of Studio Palmetto. The 11 young people on this project are Nabiha Ahmed, Muhammad Umayr Ahmed, Alima Alam, Syed Fardeen Alam, Ruksar Rowza Aziz, Najni Ferdous, Ahmed Mustafa Iqbal, Farah Mohammad, Sabrina Mohammad, Aishah Siddiqua and Anisah Tasnim. 

The Bangladeshi population makes up almost one-third (32 per cent) of the borough’s population – considerably larger than the proportion across London (three per cent) or England (under one per cent). Tower Hamlets has the largest Bangladeshi population in England; approx. 25 per cent of the entire diaspora. 

About Bangladesh at 50 

From March to December 2021, Tower Hamlets Council has funded and supported a number of projects and events celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh.


Posted on Tuesday 23rd November 2021