Attenborough Art Centre, based at the University of Leicester, is returning to normal featuring vibrant and symbolic exhibitions.
Attenborough Art Centre was set up by Richard Attenborough 25 years ago who believed art was for everyone and wanted to create a space that housed creativity. To this day, the art centre continues to spread the joy of art with its local community. From hands-on creative courses to workshops and performances created for children and young people with disabilities, people of all sorts can come together whether they are participating in educational activities or viewing stirring exhibitions. These creative programs however came to a stop during covid 19, a time when thousands of business took massive hits that some could not recover from.
According to a study conducted by Economics Observatory, between April and June 2020, when the UK was in its first country-wide lockdown, businesses estimated that their sales were around 30% lower than they otherwise would have been. As was the case for many other organisations, the Attenborough Arts Centre was temporarily affected due to the pandemic and had to shut its doors. Andrew Fletcher, Director, said: “We had to furlough many of our staff so in one way we were inactive. It was tough.”
Yet with the reopening of what seemed like normality after Covid 19, the centre followed suit. The Director said about the centre: “It’s doing pretty good. We used to get 100,000 visitors per year and 87,000 now. Its increasing every week and with the new cohort of students in September it’s felt more normal than it has been.”
One such exhibition that has transformed a gallery of the centre is Mohammad Barrangi’s ‘Playing in Wonderland.’ The exhibition which is free to visit has been open since the 29th of October and is running until the 5th of March 2023. Showcasing marvellous blends of colours and patterns, traditional Iranian themes, and unmistakeable humanitarian statements, the exhibition provides viewers with an immersive escape from reality.
Speaking about how the exhibition had been going, Mita Solanky, receptionist at the centre and fellow artist herself said: “I think it’s been really well received. Lots of different people have been coming to see it. It’s thought provoking and there’s a lot to be taken from it.”
Among the art pieces featured, one stood out in particular; the Wall of Women. The wall showcased black and white pictures of women who have been affected by oppression. Described as “a humanitarian statement” that “transcends politics and religion” the piece starkly stands out and sends ripples of solemnity to viewers. Christine Gale, a visitor, said: “Coming from the background that the artist comes from, it’s nice to see someone celebrating the woman in that sort of culture.”
Another visitor, Pascale Roussel, who works at the Sanctuary Seekers Unit at the University. of Leicester said: “On social media, there were all these women posting pictures of themselves in black and white. It’s about women all over the world and supporting women.”
Written by Mina Sofeso
A 16 year old college student studying journalism at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College.