New public artwork in East London to mark 50th anniversary of Bangladesh

As part of ongoing commemorations of 50 years of Bangladesh independence, a new giant sculpture, titled BANGLA has been unveiled at Idea Store Whitechapel in East London.

The illuminated installation was created by Tower Hamlets Council, Ruhul Abdin (Bangladesh-based artist) and the National Portrait Gallery. It is covered in fabric and suspended in the Idea Store facade, where it will remain until early 2022.

Cllr Sabina Akhtar was Cabinet Member for Culture at the launch. She stated that "The Bangladesh War of Independence was an important moment for thousands of East Enders, even though none of its battles took place here." As war was looming back home, the British Bengali community protested and lobbied for the struggle for independence at the beginning of the 1970s. This creative art installation and exhibition at Idea Store Whitechapel will highlight this important aspect of our history.

Ruhul Abdin collaborated with British Bengali Citizen Researchers in order to examine the significance of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War using collections at the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives. This was part of the Citizen UK Bangladesh fifty project, which is a collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery and Tower Hamlets Local History Library.

An exhibition of history is displayed on the exterior wall of Idea Store. It tells the story of 1971's Liberation War and the contributions of Tower Hamlets residents in the struggle for independence.

John Biggs was Mayor of Tower Hamlets. He stated, "Diversity in our borough is one of its greatest strengths and we are proud of celebrating the best of Bangladeshi cultural heritage throughout this 50th anniversary. I hope many people will visit Whitechapel Idea Store and see the artwork, and learn more about 1971 and Tower Hamlets' past.


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