Mapping Sanctuaries


Exhibition Dates: 8th - 19th December 2020




Curator: Mishelle Brito

Artist: Alaa Alsaraji


With rising Islamophobia, fuelled by hateful media rhetoric and State surveillance and criminalisation of Muslim communities, our families and communities often feel unwanted, targeted and both physically unsafe and socially isolated, cautious to fully be ourselves and embrace our heritage and faith within British society. This can foster feelings of isolation and ‘otherness’ within Muslims, combined with an uncertain sense of identity within diaspora communities.


Despite these internal and external conflicts, which have expanded over generations, communities have established and maintained their own safe havens. From the private to the public, these spaces are often improvised and built out of necessity, yet they create a sense of belonging and safety, where multiple identities can exist as one. From the Iraqi import shop down the road to the local mosques to our own homes - the creation of these spaces consciously or unconsciously enhances a sense of belonging and ultimately creates a sanctuary from the realities of life as British Muslims.

Mapping Sanctuaries is a collection of digital illustrations and sound pieces exploring the notions of safety and the spaces that exist between isolation and belonging within Muslim communities. Mapping Sanctuaries aims to platform the voices of British Muslims from different backgrounds to illustrate what these spaces look like, feel like and what they provide physically and emotionally for these communities.


About the Artist

Alaa is a London-based visual artist, designer and creative facilitator. Whilst maintaining her own creative practice through editorial work and exhibitions, she has also worked with various creative and educational organisations as a facilitator delivering creative workshops with children and adults. Throughout her various roles her work always seeks to emphasise the value of using creativity as a pedagogical process to address and explore larger issues such as identity, faith and race.


Alaa is the arts editor of Khidr Collective, a multidisciplinary artist collective creating platforms and spaces for young Muslim creatives, where she is heavily involved in the visual production of the annual Khidr Zine and online platform. 


About React

reACT is an innovative program, established by P21 Gallery & Amal (a Saïd Foundation programme) to promote and support emerging and student artists whose work is dedicated to or inspired by the Middle East & Arab world by providing a space within the P21 Gallery for an artistic intervention. reACT aims to contribute in building and strengthening cultural ties and dialogues between the East and West on terms designed by a younger generation.



Mishelle Brito is a London based artistic programmer and curator working to create dialogues relating to societal concerns in the Middle East through art, culture and creative based methods


P21 Gallery

P21 is an independent London-based charitable trust established to promote contemporary Middle Eastern and Arab art and culture.  


About Amal

Amal, meaning ‘hope’ in Arabic is a programme making grants in the UK in support of a rich diversity of arts projects and activities. The Amal programme helps sponsor p21 exhibitions. 



Press Information

For further information, press images and interview opportunities, please contact reACT Programme Manager & Curator, Mishelle Brito at:




A P21 Gallery Project



In partnership with Amal (a Saïd Foundation programme)



Supported by HUB Collective, Arab British Centre and Arts Council England