For this 4 week residency, through speculative fiction and experimental making, Sofia Niazi will be exploring the potential of contemporary craft workshops to provide public services, drawing inspiration from 14th century waqfs* (charities) of the Islamic world.

*Waqf (Arabic for endowment) is a special kind of philanthropic deed in perpetuity. It involves donating a fixed asset which can produce a financial return or provide a benefit. The revenue or benefit generated then serves specific categories of beneficiaries.

Loosely, I’m looking into a 14th century pottery waqf* that existed in Syria, where poor people could exchange broken pottery for new pieces for free. It’s related to a book I’m writing with Book Works. I’ve been painting lots of tiles recently so I’m considering designing some tiles that could be installed in the backdrop of a fictional contemporary waqf. I’m very interested in how print might fit in and would like to create a riso printed outcome to accompany it.
- Sofia Niazi, 2022

Sofia Niazi is an artist based between London and the West Midlands. Her work spans painting, textiles and video with a current focus on exploring the material production of wool and the practice of craft in the digital age. She is interested in the relationship between the image in digital and ‘off-line’ cultures with a particular interest in how online images have afterlives beyond the screen. Her practice is continually engaged in artist publishing, working on many publications both independently and collaboratively along with co-organising publishing fairs across the UK. She is a founding member of artist collective OOMK, who publish works exploring art, politics and faith. Along with Rose Nordin and Heiba Lamara (OOMK), she currently runs Rabbits Road Press, a community Risograph printing press in Newham, London.

Recent and upcoming commissions include Southbank Centre, Serpentine Galleries (with OOMK), Eastside Projects, Grand Union and Bethlem Gallery. She is currently writing a book to be published by Book Works in 2023.

This project is supported by BID - a business-led and business-funded not-for-profit organisation formed to deliver improvements to Stoke-on-Trent City Centre, through additional services, initiatives and events.

Poster image: Mark Essen

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