People, Places, Portraits

Back to all stories

Imrana Mahmood


When I met Revoluton Arts, I was already working on a project titled Beyond Borders: a combined arts project involving photography and creative writing. Initially, I was trying to find ways to bring Peter Sanders’ existing photographic exhibition, The Art of Integration, to Luton. The main reason was to counter the negative perceptions of the town, but also to show positive representation of British Muslims in the UK.

Shabnam Shabazi, the community activist for Revoluton Arts gave me a call. We had an initial meeting and it just developed from there. She encouraged me to apply to the Arts Council as an emerging creative producer. It was endearing that she saw something in me which I had not thought about pursuing. My background is in teaching and I have an interest in art and have a hobby of poetry and creative writing, but it was nothing embedded in my life; this really embedded it. So I applied as an emerging producer with the aim of commissioning a new body of work in Luton as an offshoot of the existing exhibition. I was successful in getting the funding and that really upped the project; I was able to do so much more, including working with young people in schools and colleges.

Growing up as a teenager, the arts were not given much importance or recognition, but it is slowly beginning to change now, and I feel honoured that I am in a position to contribute to redefining the arts scene – we need to diversify and ensure appropriate representation to bring new audiences in. Working with Revoluton Arts has given me the platform to enable this to happen.

I am now setting up a women’s creative writing collective as part of Revoluton Arts’ Firestarter programme. Whereas with Beyond Borders I was getting mentoring as an arts producer, this is developing me as an artist, so it is enabling me to facilitate workshops myself. This year has been so amazing – it has given me an opportunity to explore different areas. I hope at the end of the Firestarter programme I will be able to reflect back on the year and see where my heart really lies in terms of what I want to do going forward. 

Photo: Stephen King