There is an invisible veil that fails across vast swathes of society. A veil that separate us. We don't ever get to engage with those people who makes our cities turn.
During the Covid-era, society has been able to reflect on itself unlike never before. We have questioned the value of things and people that we took for granted. These include supermarket workers, delivery drivers, taxi drivers and restaurant workers.
In a polarised society, reflections of our community through street-art can be liberating. Such art breaks that veil as we subvert our visual landscape with the unexpected.
‘The Traveller’ street-art proposal depicts a ‘boatman’ of Bangladesh. He ferries people across the rivers of Sylhet every day and is vital for people’s movement. It is an icon recognisable by much of the British Bangladeshi community. Many British Bangladeshis have been ferried by such people. Many of them have also come from humble beginnings.
For the 50th anniversary of the nation of Bangladesh, this mural aims to evoke a sense of both longing and pride. For London’s Bangladeshi community to see such an image in the heart of 'Banglatown’ will restore hope. This permanent and authentic piece of art will speak to the community even as Brick Lane changes.
It is unusual and subversive. It makes ‘invisible’ people visible. It stamps them onto the London skyline for all to see.
The image of the boatman and the rivers of Bangladesh resonates with one community. It also has parallels with London, a city that thrives on the water’s edge. The city has welcomed migrants from all over the world who travelled to the city and made it a place to call home.
About Mohammed Ali:
Mohammed is the founder of Soul City Arts, a leading independent arts organisation based in Birmingham that has worked with artists, academics and activists from around the world to present innovative exhibitions, performances and digital installations. He has worked extensively around the globe in places like Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, New York and South Africa.