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Slade-Dhaka Inspire Project



Charles Wallace Foundation Residency: Joya Shahrin Huq

By Susan Collins, on 1 August 2014

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 Joya Sharhrin Huq working in the Slade Print Studio, June 2014

In May 2014 we were delighted that the Charles Wallace Trust through the British Council gave us the opportunity to host Joya Shahrin Huq, Assistant Professor in Printmaking at Dhaka University for an extended residency.

Joya was embedded into the Slade community for the summer term during which time she developed a body of work in our Print Studios,  gave an artist’s talk contextualising her present work in relation to her education and development as an artist in Bangladesh as well as observing the Slade and its processes during the end of year examination and degree show preparations. Below Joya has written a reflection on her time at the Slade, in London and the UK.

Inspired by the INSPIRE project
Joya Shahrin Huq

I was selected for the Charles Wallace Foundation award in 2014, through The British Council. It was dependent upon me receiving an invitation letter from a UK institution, where I can be hosted for a residency, for the eligibility of this program. I am thankful I received an invitation from Professor Susan Collins the Slade Director with the help of Professor Lala Rukh Selim, Department of Sculpture, Dhaka University.

So my host institution was The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (UCL). A school which upholds the practice of contemporary art, history, and theories, intending to expose these matters in an experimental, research-oriented and imaginative way. The Slade has been at the forefront of developments in the field of contemporary art, welcoming students from all over the world.

I arrived at the Slade in May 2014 to fulfill my ambitions. I had the opportunity to work with both Slade students and faculty members. My residency duration was about three months. During this time I had an awesome experience of working at Slade. I had an opportunity to view their educational curriculum, observe directly their exam process and class assessment and share our own educational and exam process. I have also seen at a close proximity how they improve and develop their final show.

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Graduate Staff examination briefing

I was lucky to visit Slade during the summer. For this reason, I not only had superb weather but the academic time period was also very congenial since at this time universities become busy for their final degree show. Although I missed the regular academic activities, I was lucky to be able to observe the Slade’s examination processes and see their graduate and undergraduate degree shows as well as other well-known London Art School graduate and undergraduate shows such as Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths, and Central Saint Martins. Therefore, I was fortunate to have an overall view of London’s art education setting.

As an academic to observe these art educational exhibitions and Art Schools all together has been a great achievement for me and this was only possible due to this program and the host organization, the Slade. I got the chance to work with one of the best universities in the world, which is a startling achievement in my life.

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The UCL Portico with  inflatable Palm Trees (Cezar Sperinde, MFA 2014)

My host organization, the Slade, is well-known for its modern and contemporary techniques and theory. The building holds so much. I was amazed to see their painting studios, sculpture studios, well equipped computer labs, a photography area, a print studio, digital studios and seminar room etc. I worked in the print studio, and used the digital lab, and bookbinding facilities to experiment with modern techniques and methods. I am thankful to Dave (Christopher) and James (Keith), who helped me to avail of those facilities. I was not only involved with BFA and MFA degree programs, I also had opportunity to engage with the Slade’s Ph.D. curriculum and attend the Ph.D. forum and seminars. The program was very interesting and quite different from that of ours. As a creative and practical based subject area, they have designed their Ph.D. curriculum in such a manner that a student can easily develop his/ her work and find his/ her own way during a stipulated time frame.

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above: Joya Shahrin Huq in the Slade Print Studio

I also attended seminars, workshops and other relevant activities. I gave an artist’s talk and presented my work and shared ideas with the teachers, students, and artists. The relation between students and teachers is very friendly. Because of summer time I found that they sometimes celebrated their happening and enjoyed their parties and picnics together. In fact, the whole of London city was celebrating the summer and having parties and picnics in the parks, which was also an exciting experience for me.

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above: Joya Shahrin Huq presenting her work

I strongly believe that new artistic languages are spawned only through exchanges between cultures or traditions. I am confident that this opportunity has substantially impacted my thought pattern and art-technique by helping me see things through a different perspective. It has provided me with a chance to bring back home the experiences, which I will share with my colleagues and students of my university. I believe that this would work like a bridge between two cultures and obviously between the two universities. It is my conviction that it has given me a chance to enhance my knowledge in art through learning new ideas and techniques with further clarity. This has enriched my artistic vocabulary.

London is a multicultural metropolis, which is known for its rich art, heritage, and culture. Its strong traditions of the past and its contemporary life have a lot to offer. England has a burgeoning new art-form centering on cultural ideas and concepts. During my stay in the UK, I visited art galleries and museums getting an opportunity to acquaint myself with a vast resource of world art—both old and new.

I visited historical places like Stonehenge, the Roman baths, Windsor Castle, William Shakespeare’s birthplace, and world famous museums including the British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum etc. Apart from that I also visited some private London museums like the Foundling Museum, and Sir John Soane’s Museum. I visited the Serpentine Gallery, White Cube Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, the Whitechapel Gallery etc. In fact I had a great gallery visit day with Susan and visited other significant galleries, that was a very memorable day for me.

This has been one of the most exciting experiences for me. I tried to see as much as I could but it’s so vast that I couldn’t manage time and missed many things.

I was introduced to British culture, tradition, food, festival, fashion, color etc. I have made some connections with artists and made good friends during my residency. From my multi-national friends I got to know their art culture, lifestyle, food and heritage. We shared many experiences and ideas. Another most exciting experience was to visit and spend time in the bank of famous river Thames and beautiful wide and green parks. This is very rare in Dhaka now. Dhaka is the city of mosques and markets and London is the city of parks.

My visit to the Slade not only helped me personally providing me with a new insight but it has also heavily impacted my contribution to my school, which has made me more confident to be positive and creative.

We are overhauling our faculty syllabus at this moment and my visit to Slade at this critical juncture has helped me contribute to the making of an internationally acceptable curriculum for our department. I can share my Slade experience with my Dhaka colleagues and students to this end. This visit has also given me the spirit to contribute to my class the new concepts, thoughts and ideas that I experienced through my residency in the UK.

As a former colony of Great Britain, Bangladesh’s art, culture, and education have been heavily impacted by it for centuries. Here we are still bearing the image of the English culture and art of the colonial times. The English have advanced much since 1947 and their culture and thought patterns are modern and very different from those of the past. My visit to the UK has helped me to see Modern Britain at close proximity, which has assisted me to see difference in the perspectives of past and present and usher in a new facet to my creativity.

And this can only possible due to the INSPIRE (International Strategic Partnerships in Research and Education) program. Thanks to the Charles Wallace Foundation, the British Council and all the teachers (especially Susan and Lala Rukh) from the Slade School of Fine Art and the Faculty of Fine Art, Dhaka University who are actively working to make this platform for both of us.

Joya Shahrin Huq
Assistant Professor
Department of Printmaking, Dhaka University

From My London Eye, Joya Shahrin Huq

Joya Shahrin Huq, From My London Eye, 2014

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