The Arab British Centre announced the opening of Jarda جاردا , a mixed media installation open from now until 10 October 2021, created as part of their Arab Britain theme in partnership with People's History Museum (PHM) in Manchester.
Arab Britain is a programming theme of the London-based charity that explores the history, achievements and experiences of Arabs in Britain. Centred around the long-term goal of creating an archive of Arab British experiences through commissions and community engagement, the theme was first launched in 2019 aiming to highlight stories of migration, diaspora, and the intricacies of the Arab British experience, in all its intersections and diversity.
Jarda جاردا - garden in Moroccan Arabic dialect - is a co-produced project devised by Manchester-based artist Jessica El Mal in response to this theme, inviting women from Arab backgrounds in Manchester to take part in a series of workshops focused on art, nature and identity. The workshops built up to the creation of a mixed media installation which is on display now as part of the PHMs wider programme for 2021 exploring migration. The project was selected by a Community Programme Team made up of people whose lives have been shaped by migration who have been helping to shape People History Museums exhibitions and activities,
El Mals practice regularly centres around ecology, the environment and migration. Her inspiration for Jarda جاردا came when the UK was still in lockdown and when parks, fields and forests became our only outing. The word Jarda comes from Jardin, commonly used in Moroccan dialect and derived from the French word for garden. Following a call out in May for women to take part as co-producers in the project, across June and July El Mal led six workshops, five of which were outdoors in Manchester and Salfords green spaces including the Royal Horticultural Societys Garden Bridgewater, Peel Park and We Are Muds allotment.
Co-producers Maryam Alsaeid, Hibah Ali, Sanaa Sedaki, Hana Masaarane, Reem Alazemi and Soraya Agaoglu created artwork at these gardens using photography, collage, self-portraiture, screen-printing and more. The installation they have created to display their work invites museum visitors on an immersive walk in nature through Arab British eyes and encourages viewers to re-question the green spaces we will never take for granted again.
Alongside the physical exhibition in Manchester, the Arab British Centre will be releasing a free digital pack of creative activities people can do from home to engage in the themes of Jarda جاردا and reflect on their own connection to green spaces. Audiences will be invited to submit their activity responses to the Arab British Centre where they will be shared online as part of the digital campaign as well as displayed online as part of the upcoming Arab Britain digital gallery. To sign up to receive the pack, register for free on the Arab British Centre website