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British Council brings exhibition BANGLA for local art connoisseurs

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The British Council has organized an exhibition styled ‘BANGLA’ to commemorate 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence with Tower Hamlets.

Dhaka-based architecture studio Paraa, in collaboration with Tower Hamlets Libraries and Archives, National Portrait Gallery, London, citizen researchers (local community members) and The Rainbow Collective, has recently come up with a collaborative piece of artwork reflecting on the work of citizen researchers from the British Bangladeshi community, who have been exploring the role people in Tower Hamlets played in the independence of Bangladesh and the legacy of the events of 1971 on the local community.

The British Council supports viewing the artwork through this exhibition in Dhaka. The exhibition was kicked off in The British Council’s Fuller Road office on 16 June 2022 and will continue till 16 July 2022. The exhibition is open to all from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On an opening day, an Artist Talk with Ruhul Abdin was held where a conversation with the National Portrait Gallery discussing this collaborative piece of artwork as part of the CITIZEN UK initiative was initiated. Ruhul Abdin and Sadiqul Islam Shehab of Paraa worked with material collected by these citizen researchers to create this collaborative piece of artwork as part of the National Portrait Gallery (London) CITIZEN UK initiative.

To commemorate 50 years of Bangladeshi independence, the new public artwork has been installed at the Tower Hamlets Idea Store in Whitechapel, London. It signifies the diverse people that makeup Tower Hamlets’ Bangladeshi community. Copies of the material (text, photographs, maps, images, newspaper articles, etc.) gathered by citizen researchers are visible at street level, plastered on a sort of community bulletin board, creating an outdoor public display/museum/archive.

Covering the letters in saree fabric refers to the fabric industry which employed many Bengali workers in Tower Hamlets (and is still a prominent industry in Bangladesh supplying many UK clothing retailers). Each letter is wrapped in a different color inspired by Biman Mullick’s design for the first set of stamps representing Bangladesh as a new nation in 1971.

The artwork will remain permanently in the borough of Tower Hamlets at the Idea Store, as a reminder of the stories connected to 1971 and the Bangladeshi community of East London.

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