Kois Miah

Dhaka-based architecture studio Paraa, in collaboration with Tower Hamlets Libraries and Archives, National Portrait Gallery, London, citizen researchers and The Rainbow Collective.  

The British Councilis supporting a viewing of the artworkthrough an exhibition in the British Council Fuller Road office in Dhaka from 16 June 2022 till 16 July 2022.  The exhibition will be open from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m..

A new public artwork in the east end of London is hard to ignore.  Lit up at night and vibrant during the day, a steel scaffolding covered in saree fabric spells out the word 'Bangla' in Bengali script. The piece reflects 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. 

Ruhul Abdin and Sadiqul Islam Shehab of Paraaworked 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. 

Who are citizen researchers? They’re local community members invited to explore neighbourhood and national archives and collections and share their own memories and material to tell the stories of migrant communities from their area, in collaboration with Tower Hamlets Local History Library. 

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 make up 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 references 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 colour inspired by Biman Mullick’s design for the first set of stamps representing Bangladesh as a new nation in 1971. 


Sadiqul Islam Shehab

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. 

 Paraa is an architecture, design, urban research studio based in Niketon, Dhaka. Led by architect Kazi Aarefin and Ruhul Abdin since 2014. Paraa works in a collaborative process with diverse communities.   

 Ruhul Abdin, (b. 1985, Maulvibazar) is an artist and researcher based between Dhaka and Bow in Tower Hamlets, UK. He has aMasters in Urban Development Planning from the Bartlett, University College, London (2012) 

 Sadiqul Islam Shehab, (b. 1995, Bogra) is a practicingarchitect with a passion for urbanism and visualisations based in Dhaka.  

 Citizen UK is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Art Fund.  

 The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language.