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CEMENT at 5th Base Gallery: Migration, identity, faith and the female body

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 November 2017

Saskia Jean-Charles in Ferrajean by Lucille Jean-Charles. Picture: Lucille Jean-Charles

Saskia Jean-Charles in Ferrajean by Lucille Jean-Charles. Picture: Lucille Jean-Charles

Archant

‘I think many artists of colour feel frustrated at this lack of representation’

Eight emerging female artists have come together to create an exhibition which explores themes of migration, plural identities, faith and the female body in Shoreditch’s 5th Base Gallery.

“The title of our exhibition is CEMENT - She Meant We Meant,” says designer Tifany Marta Sahili. “Our logo is multiple hands surrounding a building which is mid-construction, symbolising genesis. It’s about a celebration of individual creative expression within the context of a larger artistic collective and feminist movement.”

For Marta Sahili, design is an outlet for celebrating plural identities. Leaving an African mother and Arabic father in her birthplace, Lisbon, Marta Sahili immigrated to London at the age of nine. “My brand MARSAH reflects this mix of identities; it is my two last names, one Portuguese, the other Arabic, fused together.

“MARSAH is an inclusive couture brand which caters to women of all shapes and backgrounds. I want women from any culture or religion to feel comfortable in my designs because they don’t contradict their values.

“Fashion is changing,” she argues. “With globalisation, it makes no sense for London designers to only represent white British identities.”

Alongside wearable artworks by Marta Sahili, Petra R. Nogueira, Lucille Jean-Charles and Soraiya Nelson-Ayeltigah, will be documentary films, photography and painting by Asena Nour Oyzoyn, Lilo Amaral, Monica Tilan Mentoya, and Harpreet Uppal.

“As an art student I find it hard to relate to lots of the artists I study because I don’t recognise myself in their work,” says Uppal. “I think many artists of colour feel frustrated at this lack of representation.”

CEMENT attempts to remedy this imbalance, with each artist contributing works informed by personal experience of dual heritage, marginalisation, or diaspora.

“Living and studying in London has definitely empowered us as artists,” Uppal and Marta Sahili agree. “This city is so full of different people it feels like everyone has something unique to offer.

“5th Base Gallery and Shoreditch are ideal locations for CEMENT because, like us, it’s a community where diversity inspires creativity.”

CEMENT - She Meant We Meant runs November 11-12. 5th Base Gallery, 23 Heneage Street. 5thbase.co.uk

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