Asian artists take over the chapel at Wentworth Woodhouse

The private chapel at Wentworth Woodhouse is to become the backdrop for thought-provoking work from a Pakistani women’s art collective.

It marks the monumental life change of the first generation of Pakistani women who came to Rotherham in the 1960s,  telling their stories through the memories they carried with them in hearts and luggage. Shaheen Shah, a visual artist, Zanib Rasool MBE, a writer and poet, and Mariam Shah, an oral historian, make up the Zanib Collective. Their exhibition, The Suitcase, runs from November 2-27 and captures the sight, smell, and feel of the Pakistani home through stories, poetry, visual images and video.

Everyday objects the women brought with them will be on display; prayer mats, clay pots, bracelets and henna and photos of the family left behind, plus the letters that arrived from home as they navigated a new life.

Said Zanib Rasool: “Through objects, diverse communities sustain and preserve their histories, traditions, social and cultural practices. The suitcase and the objects hold a special place in our hearts and connect us to our mothers, our history and heritage.”

Shaheen Shah and Mariam Shah, of the Zanib Collective

The chapel inside the 18th century Grade I listed mansion has become the backdrop for exhibitions by local artists since the Preservation Trust regenerating the house decided to support the work of the Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance project (ROAR).

“We decided to give four local artists the space and help they needed to stage their first ever exhibition,” said Trust CEO Sarah McLeod. “Our Chapel is a place of calm and we thought it was the ideal setting for people to contemplate artworks.”

It is free to visit the exhibitions, which run every Wednesday to Sunday. To ensure physical distancing, viewing is in timed slots which can be booked online.

The series of exhibitions has been supported by ROAR and funded by WE Great Place project. Two further showings by local artists will take place in 2021. The first exhibition ran in October.