We recently caught up with Aïcha Bahij – creator of This Is The Home Of Change – to reflect on the wonderful mural she created for our hub. It was a thrill watching her work and so we wanted to hear her perspective on the development of the mural, her inspirations and what she’s working on next.
Tell us about how This Is The Home Of Change came about and what your brief and approach was?
The brief was to celebrate Bradford’s past, present and future, with an emphasis on femininity, in line with the Hub’s mission to support female entrepreneurship and the UN Sustainable Development Goals for Gender Equality and Reducing Inequality.
With any project of this depth, I always start with research. Fortunately, I work at the University of Bradford library, where there’s an abundance of archive material on Bradford’s past – it led me to discover characters I was familiar with and those I was not.
For present day Bradford, I spoke to friends and colleagues about current people and events that were going on in the city that I could include.
What was your process on working on something of this scale?
This was only the second mural I’d worked on. The first was on the walls of the cafe at Cartwright Hall. The theme was inspired by Keats’ The Human Seasons, reminding us of the relationship between humans and nature at a time when we seek to protect our environment.
That experience taught me a lot about scale and how to turn the images I draw on paper, into something immersive where I felt I was inside my artwork. But, as with any piece of artwork, there’s also an element of trial and error: Does this colour work? Nope! Let’s try another!
We saw you were having lots of fun in the Hub working on the mural; tell us a little about some of the others who helped out along the way.
Haha! Yes, I roped in family, friends, and unsuspecting passers-by into helping me colour in the mural! The whole ethos of the Hub is community engagement, bringing people together to inspire and discover, to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
On that note, I would like to thank the following people…
My mum and aunty Barbara who have, throughout my life, ferried me back and forth from one art event to the other, bought me books and supplies and have always championed my creative side!
Aleks, Deborah (her wonderful husband, Mark) and Munaza – lifelong friends, unshaking and unwavering in their support of me and my hairbrained ideas! There are truly not enough words to describe how blessed I am to have you all in my life.
To Aila and Esha – such welcoming hosts during the time we were there and inspirations to the final piece!
What’ll you be working on next?
The next project I am working on is called Ambiguities (aka 10 paces, bro!). It will be looking at the myriad identities of Muslim women – public perception vs self-perception.
For the public perception, I will be doing interviews with the participants, asking them about their experiences growing up with these multiple identities – the prejudices and expectations they may have, both from outside and within the Muslim community.
For the self-perception, I’ll be painting their portraits to reflect an aspect of themselves that the people might not necessarily expect from Muslim women.
You can find out more about Aïcha at okayaicha.co.uk