I never imagined this project would help me connect with first generation men and women who came here in the 1950s and 60s. It was a privilege and honour to hear their stories that speak of hard work, sacrifice and a great sense of pride.
On 12th July 2013, a bomb exploded close to the Kanzul Iman mosque in Tipton, West Midlands. The bomb had been packed with nails. The police reported that it was only because the bomber had incorrect information about when Friday prayers would take place that the blast did not result in mass injuries.
A week later, Pavlo Lapshyn, a Ukrainian student on a temporary work placement in Birmingham, was arrested and charged with the murder of 82 year old Mohammed Saleem who, in April 2013, had been stabbed to death on his way home after evening prayers at his local mosque. Lapshyn was also charged with the Tipton bombing offence and for earlier attacks near mosques in Walsall and Wolverhampton. He was sentenced at the Old Bailey to a minimum of 40 years imprisonment.
Informed by this knowledge, for nearly two years Mahtab Hussain worked closely with Muslim residents in Tipton, making a series of photographic portraits of the people and places that he found there.
The photographic portraits are accompanied by a series of texts, taken from interviews with different generations of Muslim residents living in the town. Experiences are shared about individual’s upbringings in (and, in some cases, arrivals to), the UK, from the 1960s to the present day.
This project resulted in a publication that Multistory produced with Dewi Lewis Publishing and it can be bought here.
This publication was gifted to all of the people who took part in the project during a celebration event on Sunday 6 September, 2015 at Victoria Park, Tipton.
Sandwell Arts Festival
A selection of images from the book were exhibited at Tipton Library in 2015.
Born in 1981, Mahtab Hussain is a British social commentary artist who uses photography to explore the important relationship between identity, heritage and displacement.