Visual art has always been a powerful medium of expression; bridging divides and bringing people together. During a time of physical distance between one another, art takes on an additional dimension, offering the ability to connect with others and with oneself. In response, the UK jurisdiction Jamat launched the heARTspace initiative. Participants were given a very simple brief: their artwork should come from the heart.

Inspired by the overflowing energies of artistic talent from the Jubilee Arts initiative in 2018 and the Ismaili CIVIC’s ‘Smile Through Art’ project in 2020, heARTspace aims to nurture the desire of artists in the community to express themselves through art and share their creativity with others. 

Originally envisaged by the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board (UK), the aim was to create a platform through which people could connect, celebrate, and enjoy the artistic talents within the Jamat. Some of the physical artworks submitted have been displayed in care homes across the UK through Ismaili CIVIC's Smile Through Art initiative.  

The global pandemic has been a challenge considering that we are unable to physically stay connected to one another.  Art has proven a powerful medium for many in the Jamat who have taken it as a hobby, and channelled their experiences during this time. The ability to create something that has meaning can play a healing role in improving mental health and providing comfort during times of loneliness and isolation. 

Since August 2020, AKYSB have received 150 original art pieces from 50 artists of all ages and backgrounds within the Jamat, including pieces that were submitted to ‘Smile Through Art’. The artwork presented encapsulates the beautiful mission of heARTspace – creating art that comes from the heart. Each piece contains a quote from the artist that captures a unique story and reveals what their art means to them. 

AKYSB were captivated by the way art was being used as a positive outlet and a channel for self-expression during the recent lockdowns. The team saw an opportunity to capture this by collaborating with the Ismaili CIVIC initiative ‘Smile Through Art’, in which elderly residents in care homes received hundreds of pieces of visual art from the Ismaili community during the pandemic. 

Zulfi Amade, a talented Ismaili artist who participated at the Jubilee Arts International Arts Festival in Lisbon in 2018, has had his artwork featured in various galleries, including heARTspace, spoke about what creating and sharing art means to him, 

“Art is a wonderful form of escapism from the everyday in that it’s full of enjoyment and you never feel bored when you are immersed in it,” said Zulfi. “The magic is created by the artist, by occasionally being able to pick a dream from a cloud.”

As a professional artist and architect, Zulfi is encouraged by the initiative of heARTspace as it invites artists of all abilities in the community to not only create magic with their hands but to also be given a platform to feel appreciated for their courage to display their work. His own artistic journey was sparked from a young age when his first piece of art was cherished by someone dear to him that he gifted it to. This encouraged him to pursue art professionally. 

The beauty of art, in words of Picasso, “is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Zulfi believes heARTspace will be the spark our community’s artists need to take their love for art further, and even dream about displaying their work in more galleries.

An upcoming virtual exhibition further aims to nurture and develop this awe-inspiring artistic creativity in the community, and for the global Jamat to enjoy viewing these art pieces in the comfort of their own homes. 


If you would like your artwork to be featured in the heARTspace gallery, please email [email protected].