3FF (Three Faiths Forum) worked in partnership with Near Neighbours in West Yorkshire, on International Women’s Day (Wednesday 8 March) this year. Fiona Ranford, Programmes Coordinator for Arts & Culture at 3FF, tells us how the launch of the Women | Art | Belief launch went in Bradford on IWD this year.

This Quarter we have worked with partners at the Kings Centre in Southall and Near Neighbours West London co-ordinator Becky Brookman to deliver art-based workshops with poet and illustrator Sophie Herxheimer.

Over five weekly workshops, we supported women from diverse faith and belief backgrounds to develop a deeper understanding of their own identities and each other’s through artist practice.

Illustration, collage, journaling, poetry and storytelling were tools used to support the women, for whom English is an additional language, to develop confidence in speaking about identity and belief. Around twenty five women participated in one or more of these sessions.

This Quarter we also launched Women | Art | Belief in Bradford, in partnership with Near Neighbours co-ordinator Wahida Shaffi. A four-month interview process with around fifteen women artists from diverse faith and belief backgrounds in West Yorkshire culminated in the launch of a collection of oral history postcards and portraits of featured women, designed by art collective OOMK.

The launch event attracted around eighty participants who heard six women artists speak about the relationship between their faith and their artistic practice, as well as the challenges of being religious women in the arts. 

Artists performed songs, poetry and spoken word, while films produced by Paresh Solanki were also shown in the exhibition space and in the main square in Bradford in collaboration with UNESCO City of Film.

Exhibition Portraits by Shanaz Gulzar 

Launch event photographs by Paresh Solanki