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Bangladesh 50 Years Artwork

Bangladesh 50 Years Artwork

Bangladesh 50 Years Artwork

2 September 2021 - 1 June 2023

Idea Store, 321 Whitechapel Road, E1 1BU


A public realm artwork has been commissioned to commemorate 50 years of Bangladesh independence and to share the research undertaken by local resident ‘citizen researchers’ into the experiences of the Bangladesh community in Tower Hamlets.

Originally planned to be an exhibition of art, research and archive material at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, the artwork has evolved to be outdoors, suspended from the Tower Hamlets Idea Store (library) to ensure public and local residents can safely access and experience the installation.

Images showing the artwork and accompanying interpretation © Kois Miah

Artist – Ruhul Abdin

Ruhul Abdin worked with Citizen Researchers to create this collaborative piece of artwork. He founded participatory design and architecture studio Paraa and is based between Dhaka in Bangladesh and Bow in Tower Hamlets. He is also a portrait artist and has created works sensitively representing Bengali people and capturing events as they take place.


বাংলা সাবটাইটেল সহ ভিডিওটি দেখুন



Co-designed by Paraa: led by artist Ruhul Abdin & architect Sadiqul Islam Shehab the artwork commemorates 1971, the forming of Bangladesh as a new nation, and what happened next for the diverse people that make up Tower Hamlets Bangladeshi community. Made from steel, the large-scale structure stands out on the street but can also provide a more intimate experience walking underneath and looking up at the delicate design.


The structure represents the word Bangla in Bengali script, the language most commonly spoken in Bangladesh and recognisable to many local Bengali residents of Tower Hamlets. The letters sit against the windows of the Idea Store and will be lit to enhance their visibility, especially during evenings.


Covering the letters in saree fabric references the fabric industry which employed many Bengali workers in Tower Hamlets and is still a prominent industry in Bangladesh supplying a large number of UK clothing retailers. Each letter is wrapped in a different colour inspired by Biman Mullick’s design for the first set of stamps representing Bangladesh as a new nation in 1971.



Embroidered murals


Sitting adjacent to the letters, 2 embroidered murals represent the research that the Citizen Researchers undertook as part of the project. The scrap book approach to the embroidery speaks to the nature of collating different archive materials and honours the different types of content found by the Citizen Researchers, including sketches, poetry, newspaper cuttings and maps. Specially designed posters along the disused escalator show more of the images and archive material that was used.


Final work

Visit the artwork

Suspended from the Whitechapel Idea Store (local library), the large scale letters spelling out Bangla are visible from the road covered in brightly coloured saree fabric and LED lights. Walking underneath the structure you can look up to see embroidered murals revealing some of the research produced by the Citizen Researchers and artist Ruhul Abdin, including the original sketches by Biman Mullick for the first stamps of new nation Bangladesh in 1971. It is a celebration of the identity, people and stories that make up the diverse Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets.

Location: Idea Store, 321 Whitechapel Road, E1 1BU

Legacy: The artwork will remain in the borough of Tower Hamlets at a new location to be confirmed, as a permanent reminder of the stories connected to 1971 and the Bangladeshi community of East London.

Bangladesh 50 finished embroidery

Funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund


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