Maryam Wahid (b.1995, Birmingham) is an artist who uses photography to convey her identity as a British Pakistani Muslim woman. Through her deeply rooted family history and the mass integration of South Asian migrants within the UK, her photographs explore womanhood, memory, migration and the notion of home and belonging.
Since graduating with a BA in Photography in 2018 she has won many prestigious awards, these include accolades from Format Festival, Photoworks and The Magenta Foundation. She was recently awarded ‘Portrait of Britain 2021’ by British Journal of Photography for her photograph, ‘Halima Jabeen in her front garden’.
In 2020, she featured on BBC’s Great British Photography Challenge programme with Rankin. Wahid’s work has been commissioned by The Guardian, The Financial Times, Wellcome Collection, The Telegraph and Digital Photographer Magazine. More recently, she was the lead artist for the Creative Connections project by the National Portrait Gallery and Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
She was also invited to be on the selection panel for a prestigious competition held by the National Portrait Gallery spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge for the project, Hold Still (2020), an ambitious community project that created a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown. Alongside this, she has judged art competitions for Photoworks and The New Art Gallery Walsall.
Currently, her new work Zaibunnisa is being premiered at The Midlands Arts Centre which includes photographs, moving images and writing. Zaibunnisa, meaning ‘the beauty of women’ refers to Wahid’s mother’s birth name prior to emigrating from Pakistan to the UK in 1982 for an arranged marriage. The photographs tell the story of Wahid and her mother’s journey to Lahore in 2019, Wahid’s first-ever trip to Pakistan and her mother’s first visit in twenty years. The artist documented their time spent together during this journey of discovery as her mother reconnected with old friends and family. They spent time exploring her family home, where Wahid reimagined what her life could have been, had she lived there. The artist felt a deep, spiritual connection to the house and particularly to her maternal family whom she never met. The work addresses themes of loss, memory, displacement, identity and migration whilst importantly counterbalancing a celebratory future and the positive married life that the artist’s parents made for themselves in Birmingham.