LONDON: A new mixed-media exhibition exploring the history, achievements and experiences of Arabs in Britain through the lens of people’s relationship with nature and green space has launched in the north of England.
Free to visitors and run by the Arab British Centre, the Manchester-based installation highlights stories of migration, diaspora, and the intricacies of the Arab-British experience in all its intersections and diversity.
Themed around the idea of nature and named “Jarda” — “garden” in Moroccan Arabic — artists will give audiences a chance to “walk in nature through Arab eyes.”
English-Moroccan creator Jessica El-Mal, lead artist and one of the co-producers of the installation, said her inspiration for the project came when the UK was still in lockdown and when parks, fields and forests became people’s only outing.
The women-led exhibition encourages visitors to appreciate the green spaces available to them, while also exposing audiences to the Arab experience in modern Britain.
“Working with this group of amazing women has made me appreciate Manchester, myself and my femininity in a whole new way. After the year we’ve just had, this project and exhibition is the lightness we all need,” El-Mal said.
Amani Hassan, program director at the Arab British Centre, said: “Since it was first launched in 2019, our Arab Britain theme has set out to explore the history, achievements and experiences of Arabs in Britain.”
The program aims to overturn preconceptions, challenge prejudices, retrace the ways the Arab world has influenced and shaped British culture and society, and celebrate the contributions of Arabs in the country, past and present.
“Jarda highlights the universal comfort and connection we can all find in nature through intimate and personal reflections on home, belonging and the power of community,” Hassan said.
“We hope that visitors to the museum enjoy their walk in nature through Arab British eyes and are encouraged to reflect on their own connections to it.”
The physical exhibition will be accompanied by a digital offering that will give people free access to a host of creative activities that aim to encourage people to reflect on their own connections with green spaces.
“Jarda” is open now, and will run until Oct. 10 in Manchester’s People’s History Museum.