Inspired by creativity #4

It’s May Day, time is flying. The AIU Centre has been working hard over the past month to rethink how, why and what we collect and archive during these strange times – but working from home (and away from our archives) is proving difficult as we’re sure it is for many other organisations.

As ever, we’ve been using our time outside of work to be creative. It keeps our minds happy, healthy, engaged – while also reminding us of the various material that is sitting safely in the strong rooms at Central Library.

6. Henna with Laila Benhaida – CIFTC Project Trainee Archivist

The henna tradition features many times in our archive – we have had artists at events who have shared their skills with visitors, along with beautiful photographs of henna donated as part of collections. Read about Laila’s relationship with henna below:

“Henna patterns are so beautiful and fluid, everybody has a different style. It’s a great way to express yourself.  In Morocco, where my father was born, henna is used to decorate the hands and feet of women or girls in preparation for a celebration such as a marriage or Eid. The henna dye is made from a plant grown in hot climates.  The leaves are  dried and then ground down to fine powder which is then made into a paste.  The paste can be used to dye skin, nails and hair.”

A photograph of henna from our The Distance We Have Travelled archive, sharing the stories of Somali, Kurdish and Afghani refugee communities in Manchester (GB3228.41)
Another photograph from Yemeni Roots, Salford Lives project, which captures the history of the Yemeni community in Eccles (GB3228.39)
This beautiful illustration of a hand is from our Ananna archive – Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation (GB3228.58)
This photograph of a henna artist in action was taken at our Community History Showcase in 2017, in Manchester Central Library.

Laila was recently inspired to take up henna again:

“On a warm and sunny day my very creative neighbour made some homemade washable paints from shaving cream, food colouring, corn flour and water.  She filled some squeezy bottles and we all had a go at doodling our front walls and the pavement. This was really fun and easy for all ages as there are no brushes involved, and actually inspired me to practice my henna again.”

Stay tuned for next week’s installment! As ever we’d love to hear from you using the hashtag #InspiredbyCreativity on social media!