Artist’s Rooms : Risham Syed

The exhibition presents Risham Syed’s work The Seven Seas, (2012), a series of large scale quilts where the artist connects the intricacies of contemporary geopolitics with the 19th and early 20th Century cotton trade of the British Empire. With fabric sourced from travels to Turkey, Bangladesh, the U.A.E, Sri Lanka, U.K., India and within her native Pakistan, Syed weaves the history of the location-specific craft of textile production with tales of political resistance. All her quilts depict 20th-century maps of various port cities that were strategically located on the colonial European trade route such as Izmir in Turkey, Kandy in Sri Lanka, Mumbai in India, and Ras al-Khaimah in the U.A.E. Apart from being trade gateways, these cities were also sites of resistance and rebellion against imperial powers. Each quilt is made by combining a variety of techniques, wherein the stitching and layering of fabric echo the layering of historical and post-colonial narratives.  

The Seven Seas was originally commissioned for the ABRAAJ Capital Art prize 2012

Risham Syed (b.1969) lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan. 

Risham Syed received a BFA in Painting from the National College of Art, Lahore (1993) and an MA from the Royal College of Art, London (1996). 

Artist’s Rooms 

Drawn largely from the Art Jameel Collection, Artist’s Rooms is a series of solo exhibitions by influential, innovative artists, with a particular focus on practitioners from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. These capsule shows are collaborative and curated in dialogue with the artist. Autumn 2022 – Winter 2023 features rooms by Ayesha Sultana, Risham Syed and Daniele Genadry in galleries 1, 2, 3.