The Curatorial Research Group is organised by Lucy Lopez (Eastside Projects) and and Kim McAleese (Grand Union), supported by New Art West Midlands. Meeting approximately once every six weeks, the group brings together art workers from across the West Midlands for reading, discussion and critical feedback. All activities are free, and range from member presentations, to reading groups, to public sessions with invited speakers. If you would like to come along, or to host a session, please contact Lucy at

Information on this week’s session can be found below:

Can the museum be a site of change? With Aliyah Hasinah, Abeera Kamran, Shaheen Kasmani and Sumaya Kassim. 

Thursday 21 June 2017, 10.30am-12pm. Eastside Projects

Following the co-curation process of The Past Is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire, we reflect on institutional resistance and the possibility of transformation. We will consider the process chronologically, exploring differing expectations between the co-curators and institutional actors. We will also reflect on our negotiations with the institution and the museum’s colonial archives (significantly through language and writing the interpretation), and the aftermath of the exhibition.


Aliyah Hasinah is a poet, producer and curator based in Birmingham whose writing focuses on personal understandings of history, politics and culture. Aliyah recently co-curated The Past Is Now exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and produces for Apples and Snakes and Heaux Noire. She is also part of Art against the grain collective and 1/3 of the podcast Who Got the Juice? on Newstyle Radio. Aliyah’s poetry is published in several zines, a colouring book and most recently, in Saqi Book’s anthology “The things I would tell you:” Muslim Women Write as edited by Sabrina Mahfouz.

Abeera Kamran is a visual designer and a web-developer based in Birmingham and Karachi, Pakistan. Her creative practice is research-based and lies at the intersections of design, archiving practices and the internet. In collaboration with Shahana Rajani and Zahra Malkani, she designs and publishes Exhausted Geographies, a publication which critically engages with the politics of representation and map-making. She co-curated an exhibition in November 2017 at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery called The Past is Now: Birmingham and The British Empire which interrogates Birmingham’s relationship with the British Empire and attempts to decolonise some of the museum’s colonial collection.

Shaheen Kasmani is an artist, curator and creative producer. Her background is in language, literature and education, and she has always had a love for the visual arts. Shaheen has a MA in Visual Islamic Traditional Arts, and she specialises in using traditional patterns and motifs, in both conventional and contemporary contexts. Shaheen’s work tells a story; it could be celebrating something long forgotten, exploring a theme or idea, or a reclamation of the narrative from those who have hijacked or imposed their own upon others. Her work is about history, heritage, culture and conversation, and she strongly believes in the power of learning and education. Shaheen is a co-curator for The Past is Now exhibition at Birmingham Museum Art Gallery, and has exhibited all over the UK and taught in museums in London and Italy.

Sumaya Kassim is a fiction writer, speaker, and independent researcher. She is one of the co-curators of The Past Is Now at BMAG, and wrote The Museum Will Not Be Decolonised to chronicle the co-curation process. Her interests include cultural memory, secularism, and the politics of emotion.