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Pakistani woman waves Pakistan flag in hijab - four individual photos combined
Zaibunnisa Credit: Maryam Wahid 2022

A new exhibition at Impressions Gallery in Bradford, UK tells the story of Maryam Wahid’s remarkable journey to discover her Pakistani identity while visiting her mother’s childhood home for the first time. The exhibition was originally commissioned by Midlands Arts Centre, and opened in January 2022 in Birmingham.

The free exhibition opened in Bradford on Sat 8 April to Sat 1 July 2023, and is presented in partnership with MAC.

Zaibunnisa, an Urdu word meaning ‘the beauty of women’ refers to Maryam Wahid’s Mother’s birth name prior to emigrating from Pakistan to the UK in 1982 for an arranged marriage. The photographs tell the story of Wahid and her mother’s journey to Lahore in 2019; Wahid’s first-ever visit to Pakistan and her mother’s first visit in 20 years.

The artist documented their time spent together during this journey of discovery as her mother reconnected with old friends and family. They spent time exploring her family home, where Wahid reimagined what her life could have been, had she grown up in this house Wahid felt a deep, spiritual connection to the building and particularly to her maternal family whom she had never met.

The work addresses themes of loss, memory, displacement, identity and migration whilst importantly counterbalancing a celebratory future and the positive married life that the artist’s parents made for themselves in Birmingham.

I am completely different now. I lived in Pakistan between 1962-1982, I feel I can’t live there anymore because the atmosphere of the place and people have changed so much. Pakistan will always be in my heart because it is the country I was born in, where my parents were born and where my parents rest in peace. But the UK, this is where I live, this is where my husband is from and it is where my children were born.

Nargis Wahid, formerly known as, Zaibunnisa