New East Street public artwork Jennifa Chowdhury: Pattern & Ornamental Encounters

Jennifa Chowdhury, Pattern & Ornamental Encounters, 2024. Courtesy the artist

Earlier in 2024, GO! Southampton, Art Asia, John Hansard Gallery, and Southampton Forward held an Open Call for Hampshire/Isle of Wight artists to design artworks for East Street in Southampton celebrating South Asian arts and culture.

The selected work is by Winchester-based textile artist/researcher, Jennifa Chowdhury. Jennifa’s work explores contemporary expressions of identity, heritage, and belonging, with a specific focus on the experiences of British-Bengali-Muslims. Her visual language is embedded in the exploration of pattern and ornamentation, drawing inspiration from the diverse influences behind traditional Islamic architecture, especially the construction of geometric patterns renowned for their symmetry and proportion.

Jennifa’s artwork blends a traditional Islamic geometric pattern with a reimagined Alpana motif, a Bengali folk-art style, traditionally practiced by women, forming a unique, third design. The artwork incorporates semi-transparent layers, allowing viewers to perceive the artist’s multidimensional identity while also creating a visually aesthetic composition.

East Street is the second iteration in a collaboration between GO! Southampton and the University of Southampton, as part of the Civic University Agreement.

The Civic University Agreement intends to improve the quality of life for people in Southampton and surrounding areas by connecting communities through culture, education and enterprise. It was signed by representatives from the University of Southampton, which will lead the initiative, alongside Southampton and Winchester City Councils, Eastleigh and Test Valley Borough Councils and Hampshire County Council in 2023.

East Street follows the launch of a new mural by local artist Poppy Ash at Southampton Central Train Station earlier in 2024. Poppy studied at Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton, and her artwork is the first phase in an exciting new opportunity that offers both new and established artists the chance to see their work featured in the city.

This project has been developed through Southampton’s Public Art Group which includes Southampton City Council, John Hansard Gallery, ‘a space’ arts, GO! Southampton and Southampton Forward in its membership.

Chowdhury’s work on East Street launches alongside the Southampton’s Mela Festival, taking place in Hoglands Park on Saturday 13 July 2024.

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