Inspired by creativity #2

Hello! Another week into working from home and creativity in our team is still flowing (see last week’s post here). Our staff and their families have been cooking, baking, gardening, living-room-picnicking, weaving, painting and making jewellery to name a few!

Over the years the AIU Centre has worked with many groups and individuals for who crafting and making is an important part of their culture. This has led to some fantastic events, showcases and skill-sharing. See below for the latest connection between these wonderful collection memories and our own gloriously crafty endeavours.

3. Making murals with Laila Benhaida – CIFTC Project Trainee Archivist

Old snooker table turned beautiful mural!

Laila and her family have been very busy creating this fantastic mural on the back of a broken snooker table. Read about their work below:

“This was a broken snooker table top which lived in our cellar, awaiting its journey to the recycling centre (which are all now closed due to COVID-19). I decided to turn it over and paint the wood white to create a blank canvas, with the intention of creating something colourful with my children.  As it is a huge piece of wood (6ft x 4ft) there was plenty of space for my children to get involved. I sketched the lines and they all painted a little bit in each colour block.  It took us about a week to complete as we dipped in and out of it, sometimes just after waking before breakfast, other times just before bed with some soothing music in the background. 

I do not know where the lady in the centre of the mural came from, she just came and now looks very peaceful and content.  The sun arrived last I guess because my children love the sunshine and we have been blessed with quite a bit since the lockdown started.”

Sunshine lady featured in Laila’s family mural

Laila’s homemade mural reminded us of an archive collection which holds photographs of some equally beautiful murals, the Malik Bakht Collection (GB3228.76).

Yvonne Bakht, wife of business owner Abdul Malik Bakht, created detailed pieces of art for the walls of their Indian restaurant ‘The Everest’ in the 1970s. In contrast to Laila’s colourful paints, Yvonne used left over fabric, feathers, string, shells, dried onion skins and anything she could find to create unique wall art.

An example of Yvonne Bakht’s homemade murals for the restaurant walls.

4. Jewellery-making with Angela Smith – Audience Development Officer

It seems every day Angela wears a new pair of shimmery, twirly earrings to work, usually with unique beads that have some relevance to the time of year or special event. Read below about how Angela makes her jewellery:

Angela’s home-crafted sparkly shiny things

“I have always been a bit of a magpie – I love shiny things. I’ve been making jewellery for years, using inexpensive materials like copper wire, tumblestones and beads, and I stocked up on wire to keep me going while I’m stuck at home. Though I would love to have the skills and equipment to create beautiful, elaborate jewellery like some of the South Asian and African pieces I’ve admired, I enjoy wearing and sharing my simpler creations!”

Making and wearing jewellery is an important part of many cultures around the world. We have held several events over the years at which community members have showcased their jewellery. The below (left) is from a MACFEST celebration and (right) is from a Community Showcase Day in 2017.

There are also several books in our library on traditional techniques of jewellery making across the world. Unfortunately we can’t’ recommend you visit at the moment due to it being closed, but please pop in once we’re open again!

Stay tuned for more next week, and please get involved on social media with #InspiredbyCreativity to let us know what you’re creating!