Shaheen Ahmed works with maps; cutting, layering and stitching to create small-scale reliefs. These sculptural objects contain tent-like elements that explore the idea of sanctuary relating to the destitute and the downtrodden and seek to reflect, more generally, on the history of global diasporic communities. The relief structures also evidence an interest in Islamic pattern work, particularly that of the Alhambra Palace, a building that symbolises, for Shaheen, the importance and longevity of the coexistence of different cultures and perspectives within Europe.
After completing her Diploma in Art and Design Shaheen started working as a Paste Up Artist at Prontaprint in Burnley Lancashire. Having gained a Degree in Art and Design at Bournville School of Art and Design, Shaheen worked at Newman University as a Teaching Technician to B. Ed. Students specialising in Clay firing.
Shaheen was employed for three years by Birmingham Canal and River Trust (BCRT) as a Creative Practitioner, delivering art workshops to various age groups and communities with elements of heritage, integration, faith, identity and culture.
Shaheen's employment through Ikon Gallery took her to Karachi in Pakistan as an artist's mentor to 3 Pakistani artists. This led onto a 6 month programme as the lead artist within schools in Birmingham and Karachi. Having completed various artist's residencies, Salaam Wycombe and Playful Spirituality (National Trust), to name a few, Shaheen studied Bookbinding and Gestural Mark making in Italy. This focused time is evident in her new work whereby she binds de-constructed maps with a blanket stitch.
Zouaves Standing, by Shaheen Ahmed
Part of Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's exhibition, Lady Dorothy's War - 10th September - 29th October 2016
Zouaves Standing is a deeply introspective piece by artist Shaheen Ahmed paying homage to French Algerian soldiers who fought at the Belgium front during World War One.
Little has been known about the Zouaves’ involvement in the war; however, there are references to be found in the letters of Dorothie Feilding:
‘These Zouaves are wonderful troops, and something so fine about them, and their morale and bravery.’
Dorothie’s first-hand accounts have inspired the artist to create small Fez hats. Each constructed using printed text, drawings and paintings from Dorothie’s war time correspondence. They are a ghostly reminder of the good work done by the few among the many. They celebrate the Zouaves’ contribution to World War One as faithful, bold and without compromise.
Zouaves Standing was created as part of the Strong Rooms (Archives West Midlands) project which toured the West Midlands the summer of 2016.