London exhibition explores art, belief and identity

Walls Have Two Sides by Aithan Shapira and David Borrington

This October, the Three Faiths Forum is presenting its annual Urban Dialogues Exhibition, showcasing the work of 25 artists inspired by themes of belief and identity.

The Urban Dialogues Exhibition brings together artists from a variety of cultural and artistic backgrounds with the aim of challenging people's understanding of who they are and what they believe.

Holly Jones, Urban Dialogues Manager at 3FF, said that the exhibition was "a way of bringing people together through the arts".

She said: "It's really about the opportunity that the arts provide for an indirect way of talking about some of the issues around identity, faith and belief in a very relaxed and fun environment."

Among individual works, two new collaborative artworks are featured on the basis of this year's theme of 'Reflection'- a theme which has resonances in many people's faiths, says Jones.

The Fury Jukebox

"We wanted a theme that would set off some imaginative thinking but that would leave the artists with enough freedom to develop the work as they wanted to," she said.

The exhibition allows artists to create artwork in collaboration with people of different faiths and non-religious backgrounds.

This year the artists were also paired with academics from King's Cultural Institute to deepen their own ideas.

Artists Aithan Shapira and David Borrington for example collaborated on a project named 'Walls Have Two Sides'. This work aims to challenge people's concept of walls and their relevance in life.

They explain: "Walls have two sides, though we live in a world accustomed to seeing only one at our homes, offices, hotels and underground stations without thinking what is happening on the other side."

Interestingly, Borrington and Shapira began the work separately, with Shapira living in the United States and Borrington based in the UK, something that is reflected in their work.

The second collaborative piece, 'The Fury Jukebox', conveys three artists' perceptions of anger, particularly as experienced in women and girls. The all-female group was influenced by other art forms including poetry, photography and the craft of 'binding'.

Urban Dialogues hope that this work will invite discussions around people's own experiences of anger.

Individual works include Hannah Habibi's re-imaginings of Pre-Raphaelite women, photographing women wearing burqas.

The exhibition is taking place at the Red Gallery, in Shoreditch, London, from October 2 to 14.

Hannah Habibi's re-imaginings of Pre-Raphaelite women

The gallery is also hosting a series of events with musicians, performers and speakers to encourage interaction and conversation among visitors.

Events include a 'day of fun' on October 6 for families and children and 'female voices' on October 10 where feminist activism will be discussed by a panel including BBC Correspondent Razia Iqbal and a member of the Islamic Society.
Holly Jones is excited to see the variety of people that will attend these upcoming events.

She said: "These events bring in various groups of people and there is a big emphasis on the fun people are having and getting people to talk to each other."

The Three Faiths Forum's Urban Dialogues project is also producing a 'Mixed Up' choir starting in people's offices with the hope of uniting individuals from a variety of faiths and cultural backgrounds through song.