Thursday, 31 October 2013

Final chance to see Changing Bradford exhibition

Photo by: Hayley Sargent (New Focus group member)
Alas, all good things come to an end, including the Changing Bradford exhibition at Impressions Gallery, which closes on Saturday 2nd November, so if you haven't already been to see it, now is your final chance. The exhibition has attracted families from all over Bradford - and beyond! We have had some wonderful comments from visitors:

“ I adore this exhibition! I think it’s absolutely awesome, coming from a Pakistani background myself, its both inspiring / powerful / influential to see the images and information on paths of the people who are of a South Asian background living in Bradford. I saw the images from outside the door and instantly I was drawn into the exhibition. Also I was jealous I missed the workshops! This is by far my favourite exhibition.”
Exhibition Visitor, S. F. 

Habib Hussain (above) was one of the enthusiastic participants from Manningham Youth Project. He is featured here at the exhibition opening, holding the wonderful Changing Bradford book.

Photo by: Hayley Sargent (New Focus group member)
We are hoping that the exhibition will have a second lease of life and will be hung on public display at a local community centre. We will also continue to distribute copies of the publication to schools, libraries and community centres free of charge. (Postage may be payable.)

Dr Mohammed Salam, CEO of COEMO (featured right), was amongst the first to see the exhibition, which showcases portraits and interview extracts from 21 oral history interviews.

Monday, 7 October 2013

VIPs turn out to launch the book and exhibition

There was a wonderful turnout on Saturday (5 Oct) at the Impressions Gallery as around 120 people crowded into the Studio to help us officially launch the Changing Bradford book and exhibition. Welcomed to the Impressions by Artistic Director, Anne McNeill, the opening speech was given by Dr Mohammed Salam, Chief Executive of COEMO.

Dignitaries officiating at the launch included: Mr Zokey Ahad, Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh,  Major Stan Hardy, Deputy Lieutenant, West Yorkshire, Cllr Khadim Hussain (Lord Mayor of Bradford), Cllr Imran Hussain (Deputy Leader of Bradford Council),  and Cllr Imran Khan (Chair of COEMO). We were also particularly pleased to welcome Fiona Spiers from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Revd. Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, Gerry Sutcliffe, MP, David Ward, MP, and Jawaid Akhtar, Deputy Chief Constable, West Yorkshire Police. Live music was kindly provided by Dr Gnanananda, senior student from Kala Sangam.

New Focus members, Aneesa and Nayaab, take a moment
 to enjoy the book before distributing copies at the launch.
Many of the people whose oral history interviews and portraits feature in the book and exhibition came along to the event and their feedback was wonderful. There was loud applause as group of young people from the Manningham Youth Group had their hard work rewarded with presentation of certificates by the Lord Mayor.

Big thanks are due to the whole project team, to the wonderful staff of Impressions and, yet again, to the Impressions Gallery's New Focus group, whose young members ensured the smooth running of the event.

The book - which looks amazing! - will now be distributed to libraries, schools and community groups in Bradford. Reference copies have been lodged with the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

The exhibition is open to the public free of charge until 2nd November.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Director of Oriental Arts features on BCB radio, Bradford

The Changing Bradford exhibition and book are definitely generating media interest! Yesterday afternoon Champak Limbachia, who is Director of Oriental Arts, was interviewed live on BCB radio, Bradford's dedicated community radio station. You can listen again by following the link to their podcast for Drive Time, Wed 2 Oct, the interview starts at 51minutes 40seconds.  BCB Radio interview. 

Champak was interviewed earlier this year by young people from the Changing Bradford project and his life story is featured in more detail in the Changing Bradford book. Yorkshire's art scene owes much to Champak who was the driving force behind the development of Bradford's famous Mela. He was the first to bring stars such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to the city.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Radio Leeds interviews Mr Shah Akbar

Anyone listening to Radio Leeds this morning will have heard presenter Wes Butters interviewing one of our oral history interviewees, Mr Shah Akbar, who came to Bradford in the 1960s to work in the textile industry. Mr Akbar's full story can be read in the Changing Bradford book which will be launched at Impressions Gallery this weekend. The exhibition runs until 2 November.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Local press showcase Changing Bradford

With the exhibition up and running and the book launch only a few days away we have been delighted at the level of press interest.

Regular readers of the Telegraph & Argus may have spotted this very colourful article which featured last Saturday, and the same article is now online on the T&A website.

We'll be posting more information on the blog about the exhibition and book launch over the next few days, and we will also be showcasing some of the oral history material and photographs which are not in the book.

Changing Bradford exhibition opens!

We said things would go quiet for a while while the team grappled with the problem of select material for the book and exhibition. Not an easy task when you realise how much wonderful oral history material and photographs have been collected. However, its is all done. In fact, as you can see, with support from the amazing team of staff and New Focus members, the exhibition is now up and running in the stunning Studio space at Bradford's Impressions Gallery where it will remain open to the public until 2nd November. Do come and see it!

Impressions Gallery is in Bradford's Centenary Square overlooking the Mirror Pool and Town Hall. Directions:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Planning ahead!

The project team (L-R: Jen, Meena, Andy) get to grips with the vast quantity of interesting material from the oral history workshops. 
Although the blog has been quiet for the past few weeks, this reflects the fact that the main oral history workshops have now been completed. However, much is going on in the background as the project team progress the development of the publication and exhibition which will launch at Impressions Gallery in Bradford from 28 Sept. As 21 oral history interviews were recorded and multiple photographs taken of the interviewees, there is a lot of excellent material to choose from. Next week's workshop with young people from Manningham Youth Project and Impressions' New Focus group will have to make some tough decisions!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Changing Bradford hits the headlines!

 It's great to know that we are not the only ones who think Changing Bradford is an exciting and worthwhile project. On Friday 19th July we were delighted to find this excellent feature in the Telegraph and Argus newspaper, written by reporter Emma Clayton. As well as a really well-rounded write-up, the article features a delightful photograph which captures a happy moment in the recent oral history interview with Naveeda Ikram, former Lord Mayor of Bradford. We are grateful to the T&A for helping us to publicise the project to wider audiences.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Exploring Bradford's built heritage

Part of the Changing Bradford aims has been to explore the influence and legacy of south Asian culture on Bradford's buildings and streetscape. Last Friday this was put into action as a group of young participants set off in a mini-bus to photograph some of the key places that have been highlighted by our oral history interviewees. One was the former Marlborough cinema, once famous as one of the earliest venues for Bollywood screenings but now, as seen from the advertising hoarding, a busy bazaar packed with stalls selling fabric and clothing.

The group also took in a visit to Carlisle Business Centre on Carlisle Road which over the years has played a major role in supporting local businesses, social enterprises and charities. The Consortia for Ethnic Minority Organisations (COEMO) is one of over 50 organisations based there!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Focus on New Focus!

One of the delights of this project has been the involvement of a group of young people from the Impressions Gallery's New Focus group.
New Focus members - with Impressions Gallery's Director, Anne McNeill on right. 
All have an interest in arts, photography, heritage and events management and all have contributed their ideas and energy to the project in different ways. At this week's New Focus meeting, many great suggestions emerged about how to document south Asian culture in Bradford, from photographing iconic places to documenting personal family stories. We look forward to getting it all online. Watch this space!!

New Focus members gather with project manager, Yvonne Deane, and Senior Gallery Co-ordinator, Jennifer Sobol,  in front of a stunning Bollywood poster. The Bollywood exhibition runs at Bradford Gallery 1 until  Sat, 24 Aug 2013.

Oldest Asian restaurant in Bradford? The Karachi!

Another heartfelt story is that of the reknowned “Karachi” restaurant.
Mr. M. Rafaqat (pictured here) remembers how his grandfather originally brought his culinary skills to the UK as a military chef in 1945. Establishing the Karachi in 1962, the Karachi may be the oldest existing Asian restaurant in Bradford - and one of the earliest in the UK. To quote the award winning chef Rick Stein, who is a passionate advocate of Asian cuisine and a great fan of the Karachi, “The food here is uncompromising; it doesn't tailor itself to western tastes.” Long may it continue!!!

Bombay Stores - An enterprising family

The Changing Bradford project has unearthed some fabulous stories. Here is one of the heartwarming from Bradford's most well established Asian businesses.
Sabra is the proud daughter of Abdul and Mariam Kader, founders of Bradford's famous Bombay Stores - "Spreading shopping delights since 1967" is the slogan above the doors. Sabra tells how her dad started life selling sweets in the street as a little boy in Bombay, India, "but he had a dream". Able to read and write, he later made a living helping people fill in visa application, then one day filled in one himself! Arriving by plane in London he was told that Bradford was a good place to go, so he did! Starting by sweeping up in Lister Mills, then working as a bus driver, he and his wife - who had previously been a seamstress, selling fabric from home - combined their skills and energies to set up a small fabric shop in a former fish and chip shop on Great Horton Road. From such small beginnings the Bombay Stores grew until it is now reputed to be the UK's largest Asian department store, attracting customers from far and wide. It is still a family business, with Sabra's brother Saleem playing a key role.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Accessing the archives

One of the project's important partners is the West Yorkshire Archive Services (Bradford) who have a huge collection of material relating to the history of the area from old maps and newspaper cuttings to important documents and photographs.

Archivist Ameena Mughal, who is herself a Bradfordian, has taken a keen interest in the Changing Bradford project from the outset and kindly gave a talk to new recruits at the very first workshop, using material she gathered for her undergraduate dissertation.

Today (Wednesday 3rd July) Ameena and her colleague Anthony were kind enough to host a visit to the Archive's search room so that we could see some of the interesting artefacts relating to South Asian immigration in Bradford. A small number of photographs, posters and newspaper articles were selected by project manager, Yvonne Deane, and New Focus volunteer, Rameez Khawaja, for possible inclusion in the project's forthcoming publication and exhibition. While we were there Ameena also related how her own family had come to Bradford from Pakistan. She recently wrote a fascinating blog post for Leeds Museum Service's Secret Lives of Objects web site about the way that South Asian family jewellery can create a symbolic personal and cultural links between generations.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sikh Elders of Bradford!

Last week saw a fantastic workshop at the United Sikh Association Day Centre on Leeds Road with young New Focus members, Kaito and Rameez, interviewing 3 Sikh elders from the Bradford community. These interviews continue to reveal the fascinating diversity of people’s personal experiences and histories. 

Like many Bradfordians from ethnic minorities,  Mr Bhadur Javanda talked about his experience of coming to Bradford when he was very young. He spoke of his family's military background, a unique and intriguing part of his personal history.

Mr Harbhajan Desai, our second interviewee, gave us a fascinating insight into working in the mills in Bradford, recalling the experience of a typical working day. Harbhajan spoke particularly emotionally when reflecting upon the discrimination he witnessed in Bradford in the early days. During the interview, he spoke of how he was proud of his children's achievements in Bradford.

Another Bradfordian businessman, our final interviewee, Mr Lachman Singh talked in depth about his successful pub businesses in Bradford in the 1970's and reflected on them fondly. Lachman spoke of the contrasts between life in India and life in Bradford, explaining how he loved and appreciated both!

It was a delight to take a tour around the centre, and a privilege to meeting the members of the United Sikh Association Day Centre who are all very excited about seeing the final results of the project!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Bradford's women mean business!

At the latest workshop participants from Manningham Youth Project successfully interviewed and photographed three of Bradford’s most successful women  – Usha Parmer, Anita Rani and Naveeda Ikram.

Usha Parmer, Chief Executive of the award winning Sunrise Radio, provided an in-depth interview about her experience as a South-Asian woman. Her involvement in Bradford began when she was given the opportunity to run Sunrise Radio for six months but for Usha six months turned into a year which turned into twenty four years and she has “thoroughly enjoyed it”. Although it was challenging job for Usha, some of her earliest memories of Bradford are about how the South Asian community provided her with a close-knit community making her feel “like you were part of a family”. Usha also went on to say the South Asian community “have contributed a lot, not just to Bradford, but to the country itself”.

Next to be interviewed was Anita Rani (from BBC’s The One Show). Unfortunately, Anita was unable to come to Bradford in person so the interview was conducted online via Skype! Although Anita now lives in London she emphasised how she is “a Bradfordian through and through”. She told the group a lot about what Bradford meant to her when she was younger and how there was a strong sense of community in Bradford. In her view the South Asian community “are the backbone of Bradford”. Anita took the group on a mini ‘virtual tour’ of her house where she showed them a 1940s poster of the route from London to Yorkshire revealing that, not only does she have roots in Bradford, but she also has a poster of the route to Bradford! Anita ended her interview expressing her passion for Bradford saying “Bradford gave me everything, the most inspiring and creative city…I am proud, PROUD to be from Bradford.”

The workshop finally ended with Naveeda Ikram, the first female Muslim Lady Mayoress, provided us with an insightful view on her connections to Bradford. Although she wasn’t born in Bradford, her father’s work brought her and her family to the city. Naveeda brought along a medal which is important, not only to her, but to British history as it celebrates her role as the first Muslim Lady Mayoress. This position allowed her to change public perceptions of Muslim women and show what South Asian women can cheive in public life. Naveeda remains a social activist and is now the first Muslim female director on the Council of Mosques in Bradford.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Celebrating South Asian arts

Many fascinating stories have emerged from the oral history interviews. Dr Geetha Upadhyaya, Chief Executive Officer of Kala Sangam, is one of the leading figures in Bradford's arts scene. She told the story of how the company was started from her own living room, moving to offices in Carlisle Business Centre in Mannigham. The company eventually secured £1.5million in Arts Council funding, which enabled them to acquire St Peter's House on Forster Square, one of Bradford's finest Victorian buildings. Originally serving at the city's general post office, it is now a centre of excellence for South Asian and collaborative arts.

Inspired by Dr Geetha's account of the transformation of the building the Changing Bradford group extended the workshop to make a special visit to document St Peter's House and to see the arts in action!
Dr Geetha is an internationally respected dance teacher and choreographer. Through Kala Sangam's Academy, South Asian traditions of classical dance, music and language are being preserved and shared with the wider world

Mumtaz memories

The Changing Bradford group were delighted to interview one of Bradford's most famous business owners, Mumtaz Khan who thoughtfully brought along an old photographs and an original Mumtaz menu. 

Today Mumtaz is a global brand, and one of the reasons why Bradford is known as the curry capital of the world.

The workshop, which took place at Impressions Gallery on 6th June, offered plenty of opportunities to for participants to learn new photography skills and experiment with different portrait styles. 
Photographer Bip Mistry shares his expertise with group members.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Bradford is Bradford!

In this session the young people from the Manningham Youth Project interviewed Aqib Khan, the young actor who played the lead role in the film West is West (the sequel to East is East). Aqib gave a frank and open interview and talked about how his Bradford roots have helped him stay grounded and how his feelings for the place have helped him give his best performances on film. He spoke highly of Bradford as a place where he feels at home and where 'you always meet someone who knows you somehow... from your aunties', uncles', nieces' kid!'...

Other notable and exciting interviewees included Champak Kumar Limbachia, the Founder and Artistic Director of Oriental Arts organisation and Mohammed Ajeeb a former councillor and the first ever Asian Lord Mayor in the country. Champak talked about his experience of coming from the bright and warm climate of Kenya to England, a very different place to Africa! He talked about his passion for music and Bradford. We were lucky enough to see and hear a piece of music on his harmonica in the interview, which was refreshing, unexpected and brilliant.

Mohammed Ajeeb gave an emotional and thought provoking interview when he talked about his interests and entry into politics. He talked about the challenges he faced when becoming the Lord Mayor in the 80's. The young interviewers found him inspirational and an excellent role model for young people who want to go into politics in Bradford.

The New Focus young people from the Impressions Gallery helped with the filming and portrait photography. Hayley Sargent, Rameez Khwaja and Austaeja Krukonyte took pictures for the blog.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A trip to Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

Stephanie Murfin, from the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery very kindly showed the young people from the Manningham Youth Project around the South Asian Exhibition at the museum. She explained the history of the South Asian population of Blackburn and their experience of coming to Blackburn to work in the Mills (not too dissimilar to Bradford). She explained that the exhibition was well received by the South Asian community in Blackburn when it was opened about 20 years ago. She did emphasise that although the exhibition did need updating it was still relevant and well used.

As a special treat, she allowed the young people to look and touch the objects that were usually kept behind the glass cabinets. She also told them about the background of the objects and how they came to be in the museum.

The young people really enjoyed walking around the exhibition and taking pictures (especially of the buffalos!). They looked at and read the striking panels. In particular, many of the young people crowded around the large map of South Asia and pointed out where their families were originally from.

Interviews and photography at the Impressions Gallery

Two very different Bradfordians were interviewed and photographed at the session on Friday 23rd May. One was Mr Tarafdar, an elderly Bengali gentleman who is a retired teacher and Mrs Andleeb Hanif, the Co-owner and Managing Editor of ‘The Asian Express’ newspaper. Both were fascinating and insightful interviews. Hayley Sargent, a young New Focus member from the Impressions Gallery took photographs for the blog and commented, “he spoke beautifully of the different ethnicities in Bradford, describing how the world is like a garden, and that there should be many different kinds of flowers in it for it to grow. It was inspirational to hear him speak about his life in Bangladesh and coming to Bradford to work as a teacher”. 

 The young people from the Manningham Youth Project, Atheeb and Sameer enjoyed this challenging session. Atheeb was an excellent interviewer, asking probing and thoughtful questions and listening intently whilst keeping the interviewee comfortable and engaged in the interview (a difficult thing to do, but he did it well!). He mentioned that interviewing Andleeb was a good experience as he could see and understand how passionate she was about her work and Bradford, which was inspiring. Sameer got into the swing of taking portrait pictures guided by a professional photographer and got very creative! Everyone is looking forward to seeing the final portrait pictures for the the publication.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Interviews and portrait photography

The first interviewees were held at the Grange Interlink with the help of Shakila Hanif who works at the venue. Our first two ladies, Mrs Banu Mistry and Mrs Amba Patel were a little nervous about the interviews but Halima Hussain and Mariam Islam (the young interviewers) soon put them at ease and the interview went smoothly. They talked about their experiences of coming to Bradford and working in Bradford. The young people found the stories fascinating, especially when Amba talked about her early years in Bradford. She talked about running to catch a bus for work, in the snow, in a saree!

The young people also interviewed two elderly gentlemen (Mr Shah Mohammed Akbar and Mr Fateh Muhammed Malik) who provided insightful stories about what it was like to live in Bradford in the 1960's, what people were like and how they adapted to their new lives. The interviewees brought in old documentation such as work permits, clocking in cards, old photographs and pictures of places they worked at, such as the mills and the local school. The young people particularly liked looking at and talking about the old photographs.