Every year, for the past 3 years I have written a new blog post highlighting my professional achievements over the past 12 months. I've published it on New Years Eve and it’s become a sort of tradition, looking back and celebrating the good things. It's certainly been a challenging year but 2020 has granted me some wonderful professional opportunities and accomplishments. Here's a few of them...
In January 2020, Jambo Cinema and Bansal Electrical came to life in the contemporary art gallery, New Art Exchange in Nottingham. A brilliant team worked closely with me to bring the vision of my Indian-Kenyan living room to life. In this iteration, I was able to bring my late father’s electrical and VHS Bollywood rental shop to life. Below is an interview with BBC presenter Monika Plaha on BBC1 Breakfast TV (you'll get to see the installations and my housewarming party!).
In February 2020, I was invited to present Asian Women & Cars : Road to Independence at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. It featured within the exhibition Cars Accelerating The Modern World and I was fortunate to speak and present my work at one of the worlds finest arts venues.
In July 2020 I landed a huge commission with thanks to Waltham Forest Council, Barbican, Here & Now 2020, Future Arts Centres to create We Found Love In The 80s with renowned artist and musician Martyn Ware, founder of the 1980s band Heaven 17 and the Human League. Our team worked so hard and we launched a heartwarming film and new website in October 2020 as part of Barbican’s produced festival, Leytonstone Loves Film. The film was watched by hundreds of people across the country at a time when all auditoriums and venues were shut and we needed to feel that warm and fuzzy feeling. We're so pleased with the audience responses and our blogs have been read by hundreds of people.
In October 2020, Jambo Cinema film was selected by the British Film Institute to feature in London Film Festival 2020 in 'This Is The Rhythm Of My Life' category.
After many years of working so hard on this project it finally got recognition in 2020! Jambo Cinema began as a 10 minute talk at Flatpack Film Festival in April 2016. The selection for London Film Festival this year was therefore super exciting and I’m so very honoured to have shared a slice of my family's story through this short film. People far and wide got in touch with me, reminiscing about their memories of video shops and saying how much they connected with the story.
Additionally, I was honoured to be a guest in a panel discussion called British Doosra Movement - New Images of The British Asian Experience with Film Critic Kaleem Aftab discuss issues of identity in the depiction of the British Asian experience with Aleem Khan (After Love), Hardeep Pandhal (Happy Thuggish Paki).
In November I was a guest on BBC1 The Repair Shop with my very damaged and exotic looking Bollywood mannequin! The episode was filmed last year and aired in November 2020. It was such a delight to be a guest on this wonderful and heart warming TV show where people and their memories attached to special objects are celebrated.
Sadly, in December 2020, my dear friend and colleague Umbreen Ali passed away. She was the Media Manager and Co-Founder of the Asian Media Awards and passed away aged 45 years old from a rare form of cancer.
Umbreen's passing has been a shock to us all in the industry and I would like to highlight her important and valuable contribution of championing, lifting and celebrating the talents of South Asian creative professionals in the British Media and Arts industries. Umbreen will be very sorely missed and will always be highly regarded by her friends, family and those who worked closely with her.
My final artistic work in 2020 was inspired personal losses of friends and a family elder. As part of my Stories in Isolation commission by Multistory, I wanted to do something to lift the sprits of people in my neighbourhood. Just before Christmas, we entered tougher restrictions of social distancing and we were all feeling a bit bed up. While we have all been in the same storm, we have not been in the same boat. So, I decided to write messages of hope and distribute them to all of my neighbours on Christmas Eve.
"Messages of Hope by Dawinder Bansal, The Artist In Residence".
My messages included a poem about hope as well as a personal note from me to keep faith during these tough times. Below is the poem about hope which was included in my messages of hope scrolls.
HOPE by Nikki Banas
If you only carry one thing throughout your entire life, let it be hope.
Let it be hope that better things are always ahead.
Let it be hope that you can get through even the toughest of times. Let it be hope that you are stronger than any challenge that comes your way.
Let it be hope that you are exactly where you are meant to be right now, and that you are on the path to where you are meant to be...because during these times, hope will be the very thing that carries you through."
2020 in so many ways was an incredible year for creativity and testing out new ideas of making and presenting work. Like many other creative people, I was forced to learn new skills and think about presenting my work in different ways. In 2021, there will be new/different opportunities, new people to meet and collaborate with, new discoveries and challenges. It's been a tough year and I hope the new year will be better for everyone who has struggled this year. A very big thank you to all of the people who have supported my work in 2020 and to the wonderful people I have connected and reconnected with this year.