Maryam Wahid: Zaibunnisa
Join Maryam Wahid on her journey to discover her Pakistani identity while visiting her mother’s childhood home.
Zaibunnisa, an Urdu word meaning ‘the beauty of women’ refers to Maryam Wahid’s mother’s birth name prior to emigrating from Pakistan to the UK in 1982 for an arranged marriage.
The photographs tell the story of Wahid and her mother’s journey to Lahore in 2019; Wahid’s first-ever visit to Pakistan and her mother’s first visit in 20 years.
She documented their time spent together during this journey of discovery as her mother reconnected with old friends and family. They spent time exploring her family home, where Wahid reimagined what her life could have been, had she grown up in this house.
Wahid felt a deep, spiritual connection to the building and particularly to her maternal family whom she had never met. The work addresses themes of loss, memory, displacement, identity and migration whilst importantly counterbalancing a celebratory future and the positive married life that the artist’s parents made for themselves in Birmingham.
A Midlands Arts Centre touring exhibition. The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England, British Council, Eversheds Sutherland, Geoff Sims Bursary, PATRIZIA, Players of the Postcode Lottery, The Roughley Trust and Transforming Narratives.
All images courtesy the artist and Midlands Arts Centre © Maryam Wahid.
— Nargis Wahid, formerly known as Zaibunnisa
“I am completely different now. I lived in Pakistan between 1962 and 1982. I feel I can’t live there anymore because the atmosphere of the place and people have changed so much. Pakistan will always be in my heart because it is the country I was born in, where my parents were born and where my parents rest in peace. But the UK, this is where I live, this is where my husband is from and it is where my children were born.”
Meet the artist
Film made by Ben Crawford, produced by Midlands Arts Centre.
Maryam Wahid (b.1995, Birmingham) is an artist who uses photography to convey her identity as a British Pakistani Muslim woman. Through her deeply rooted family history and the mass integration of South Asian migrants within the UK, her photographs explore womanhood, memory, migration and the notion of home and belonging. Since graduating with a BA in Photography in 2018 she has won many prestigious awards, these include accolades from Format Festival, Photoworks and The Magenta Foundation. She was recently awarded ‘Portrait of Britain 2021’ by British Journal of Photography for her photograph, ‘Halima Jabeen in her front garden’.
In 2020, she featured on BBC’s Great British Photography Challenge programme with Rankin. Wahid’s work has been commissioned by The Guardian, The Financial Times, Wellcome Collection, The Telegraph and Digital Photographer Magazine. More recently, she was the lead artist for the Creative Connections project by the National Portrait Gallery and Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. She was also invited to be on the selection panel for a prestigious competition held by the National Portrait Gallery spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge for the project, Hold Still (2020), an ambitious community project that created a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown. Alongside this, she has judged art competitions for Photoworks and The New Art Gallery Walsall. https://www.maryamwahid.com
Image: Maryam Wahid by John Boaz.
”Beautiful strong work, the storytelling is important. Much needed show in the North of England. Wonderful exhibition.”
”It was nice to see what the story of many others would look like in photographs. As a british born Pakistani it reminds me to never forget where you are from. I often think how life would have been if I was born there. Thank you for sharing your story with us!”
”What a beautiful curated body of work. Walking frame to frame, I felt transported to Lahore, right there with you connecting with your family history and reconnecting with your mothers memories. What a moving experience – Thank you!”
Maryam Wahid: Zaibunnisa
Full colour publication accompanying the exhibition Zaibunnisa, featuring a selection of images and accompanying text by Maryam Wahid. Including a foreword by Deborah Kermode, CEO & Artistic Director at MAC, and an essay by Bindi Vora, Curator at Autograph.
Available to buy for £10 from Impressions Gallery bookshop.Buy now
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