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Sisterhood: celebrating femininity, pride and collective strength

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Vivek Vadoliya collaborates with Speaker’s Corner, bringing new work championing the cultural collective

Organised in tandem with International Women’s day, Speakers Corner, a Bradford-based, women-led social and political collective, has collaborated with photographer Vivek Vadoliya on a new outdoor exhibition. Sisterhood captures members of the collective, and billboards will display the series across Bradford, and soon, the rest of the nation.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to help spread the message of empowerment, and celebrate young women and creativity,” says Sajidah Shabir, a member of the collective. “It feels like [Bradford] is heading in a good direction, and we feel so honoured to be part of it. This opportunity is just the start to lots of great milestones being reached,’’ she explains.

Collaborating with creative director and stylist Neesha Champaneria, Vadoliya was approached by the collective to visualise the project. Speaker’s Corner works within Bradford to create social change within the community, utilising theatre, art to bring the women living in the city together.

From the series 'Sisterhood', © Vivek Vadoliya.

As young women, we live in a state of flux, sometimes hyper-visible and sometimes completely invisible,” explains Mariyah Kayat, another member of the group. “Born out of a lack of positivity within the media narrative, these photographs present a sense of freedom and utopia, a chance for us to exist and be seen in the way we want to be. For us, Sisterhood is about unconditional acceptance, being there for each other no matter the circumstances by uprising through the darkness and celebrating life.”

At the heart of Sisterhood, there is a celebration of Northern women of colour. “Sadly, I think northern people of colour, especially in Bradford, are painted in a bad light in the media,” Vadoliya explains. “There’s quite a divide between ethnicities- this is changing, but still needs a lot of work. 2021 marks 20 years of the Bradford and Brixton riots. I really wanted to create imagery that not only celebrated the beautiful landscapes of Bradford, but also painted young women in a positive light. The images present an honest sense of freedom and empowerment that I hope will inspire other young people. We’re used to seeing grey gloomy imagery from the north, I wanted to show a different optimistic side.”

The exhibition can also be seen online here. 

www.vivekvadoliya.com

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.

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