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Aisha Zia – 62

“I want to commission work that’s exciting and dynamic, I’m looking for artists who are brave and bold; people who redefine the boundaries of what art can be and at the same time are able to shift the artistic gaze, to be more inclusive.”

62 is a new online social platform showcasing the work of British South Asian artists, activists and writers. This project aims to combat the marginalisation of BME talent by broadening the online creative space to be more inclusive of diasporic arts, from Peterborough to the UK. The project has two overarching objectives to increase visibility of British South Asian artists and talent development through workshops and mentoring.

In 2019, 62 Gladstone Street was re-fashioned from an old Bollywood video shop which belonged to Aisha’s father in the 1980’s, to a pop-up public engagement art space independent gallery and research centre. 62 exhibited work and created new opportunities for resident artists, hosted talks, exhibitions and workshops that addressed the palpable lack of representation for British Muslims in the UK. This new setting created a ground-breaking platform to discuss contemporary issues affecting the local community, a mix of predominantly Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and new wave immigrants from Eastern Europe, Portugal, as well refugee’s and young people from the Middle East.

For Aisha’s Remote Residency she plans to undertake some vital research and development. She will use the time to look for and research artists, writers and collaborators to build on this engagement, to help shape the landscape of the new platform and build new audiences. Aisha will also focus on the business development to make the new online platform accessible locally as well as nationally.

Aisha Zia is an award-winning playwright from Peterborough, former resident artist at Somerset House Studios in London and Theatre 503’s 503Five alumni. She has toured site-specific plays across the UK having had huge success with her plays NO GUTS, NO HEART, NO GLORY (Winner of Scotsman Fringe First Award, shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Awards) and OUR GLASS HOUSE (Winner of the Special Commendation from Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Awards) with Common Wealth. Aisha’s work engages young and diverse participants across the UK. Her work is dedicated to non-theatre audiences and has a strong proven track record of working in communities to deliver high-quality artistic work, using her unique approach to testimonial theatre. She is interested in real people and real stories that impact our lives today. Her work with Good Chance Theatre led her to set up a new art gallery and social platform in Peterborough, 62 Gladstone Street, showcasing the work of British Muslim artists to explore the themes of a new piece of work she will be presenting at the HighTide Festival in 2021. Currently under commission from Contact Theatre in Manchester, Aisha is also developing new work with Fuel in London and Ripe Time in New York. She is an Associate Artist at HighTide and Fellow-in-Waiting for the Royal Literary Fund. As well as conceiving original ideas for theatre, film and TV, Aisha also works as a freelance photo editor for the Financial Times and the New Statesman, having previously worked for The Independent and Reuters.

Photo Credits:

  • Image of Aisha Zia by Maryam Wahid
  • Poster Design by Sabbah Khan
  • Self Portrait by Maryam Wahid
  • Read Malcolm X by Kazim Rashid