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Bangladeshi creativity and culture gains a South Bank showcase

DIARY DATES: 11am till 7pm, Friday 22 – Sunday 24 February 2013

Shahidul Alam, Enamul Hoque, Akram Khan, Zoe Rahman & Rezia Wahid join other artists, designers, makers, musicians, speakers and writers for the UK’s biggest ever celebration of creativity and culture from Bangladesh and by UK Bangladeshis.  

NB Please see separate Oitij-jo Whats On Listings for detailed listings

Bargehouse | Oxo Tower Wharf | London SE1 9PH

London’s South Bank will play host to the UK’s biggest and most vibrant showcase of Bangladeshi creativity next month when a three-day celebration of art, craft, design, fabrics, fashion, literature and music takes place at the Bargehouse from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 February.

Dance star Akram Khan, the MOBO award-winning jazz pianist Zoe Rahman,  internationally-respected photographer Shahidul Alam, highly-rated world music band Lokkhi Terra and the acclaimed textiles artist Rezia Wahid MBE will be among the celebrities appearing alongside a new generation of designers and makers, cultural commentators and craft historians at  – a title created from the Bengali words for heritage and future.

The festival is being organised by a broad alliance of UK-Bangladesh trade bodies, business people, community groups and cultural organisation led by the Bangladesh Brand Forum UK (BBF-UK), Culturepot Global and Paraa

BBF-UK spokeswoman Maher Anjum explains: “Bangladesh is often seen only as a poor country, beset regularly by natural disasters. But this view is very incomplete.  When it comes to creativity and culture, Bangladesh is enormously rich – with a long history of producing beautiful artworks, crafts, literature and fabrics, and with many artists and designers, both in Bangladesh and in Britain, taking inspiration from Bangla culture and materials.  Our hope with Oitij-jo is that it will encourage more UK individuals and businesses to discover the creative wealth of Bangladesh, leading to new trading and cultural exchanges of benefit to both countries.”

Oitij-jo will occupy all five floors of the Oxo Tower complex’s Bargehouse – offering exhibitions of silks and saris from Benarasi and Jamdani; photography by Shahidul Alam and Enamul Hoque; live performances, fashion shows, a Rezia Wahid weaving workshop, parties, film screenings and activities celebrating the history of muslin, the fabric first introduced to Europe in the 17th century.

There will also be a pop-up bazaar selling designer clothes, fashion accessories, crafts, books and jewellery and a lively programme of talks and discussions including a series of ‘Adda’ – a form of debate hugely popular in the Bay of Bengal area.

Another of Oitij-jo’s organisers is Londoner Ruhul Abdin, one of the founders of Paraa, an architectural and design social enterprise, working to improve the built environment of disadvantaged people in Bangladesh, including a minority community of silk weavers .

He says:  “One way to improve living standards in Bangladesh is to create new income-generating opportunities for those families which grow or make materials which can be put to creative use. Oitij-jo is a chance, then, for many more people to discover the resources Bangladesh has to offer, so opening up new, fair and culturally and economically enriching, possibilities for all.”

Runi Khan, of Culturepot Global adds: ”In the past, the creative traditions and artistic talents of Bangladesh have been largely overlooked.  What is truly exciting now is how a new generation is exploring and experimenting with this heritage and developing it in innovative ways which appeal strongly to a very broad range of audiences – not just those with connections to Bangladesh.  So, for instance, we see Akram Khan wowing a global audience at the Olympics Opening Ceremony with dancing evolved from the Kathak traditions and bands like Lokkhi Terra getting rave reviews for their  Bangla folk and Baul-influenced World Jazz. The same is happening across many other art-forms, including art, fashion, film and literature – as visitors to Oitij-jo will discover to their delight.”

For the general public, Oitij-jo will be open daily from 11am to 7pm, with free admission on all three days to the ground floor and first floor exhibitions, fabric displays, merchandise area and film shows.

A £7.50p day pass (£5, concessions) grants access to the wider programme, including the pop-up designer clothes and accessories shop, more exhibitions, a weaving demonstration by Rezia Wahid, talks, music recitals and the Adda series of debates, curated by Leesa Gazi.

In addition, several separately ticketed evening and special events are planned, including a launch party with performances by State of Bengal and Shapla Salique; a cultural debate involving Akram Khan;  the Rezia Wahid weaving workshop; a discussion about the work and legacy of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore featuring a performance by Zoe Rahman, and Sunday’s night’s festival finale with Lokkhi Terra.

For more details and bookings, please see  Further information and updates are also available from the festival’s Facebook page – Oitijjo London  – and via @oitijjo on Twitter.

Oitij-jo’s chief organisers are the Bangladesh Brand Forum-UK, Culturepot Global and Paraa. Additional sponsors/ supporters are the Bangladesh High Commission, London; British Bangladesh Fashion Institute, Gandhi Foundation, OpenVizor, the SME Foundation (Bangladesh), Atique Choudhury of Yumyum Thai restaurant, Enamul Hoque of Underbelly Films and Rushanara Ali MP

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MEDIA QUERIES For more info, interviews, image or press passes,  please email:

Pam Beddard or call +44 (0) 117 987 0442 OR Ruhul Abdin on +44 (0) 7794 968658



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