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Meet Zeinab: the British-Somali Artist Unpacking Identity and Tradition

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Her eyes light up as she presents her latest inspiration, a Baati gifted to her mother from relatives in Somalia - except this one has an unusual Apple logo pattern. The traditional dress is normally designed with ornate patterns, but with the digital age and globalisation, this Baati is adorned with gold Apple logos found on Mac gadgets.

This is what Zeinab Saleh, a young Somali-British visual artist, explains to me as she strolls through University College London’s busy art school. Growing up, Zeinab said all her art teachers were ethnically white and her knowledge of the art world was Eurocentric, adding, “I think representation is very important, I want to show young people of colour that we can do this too.” Zeinab proudly tells me of her role in the Resistance is Female campaign in New York, a takeover of the advertising streetscape. She noticed there were no Muslim women shown in the ads and decided to photograph one herself, she said, “in this political climate, where the far-right is growing, we need to be represented”. 

Zeinab Saleh surrounded by her works at University College London's Slade School of Fine Art




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