Claiming Your Space - Winners Announced

Claiming Your Space logo Congratulations to our winners

Students deserve to be seen, heard, represented, and given the space to exist unapologetically. The medium of art can be a powerful way to iterate this, amplifying the work of BAME students is extremely important to enable us to tell our stories, educate and inspire the generations before us and leave legacies for those after us. Claiming your space and existing in it just as you are.

Watch the Results Stream:


We are delighted to announce the winners of Claiming Your Space 2021 are:


People's Vote

Joint first place:

  • "Reflection" by Aastha Malik @aastha.malik  (Model @daminiaggarwal): View Submission. "When will my reflection show, who I am inside?’ asked Mulan famously – a question that I began to wonder myself as I struggled with my cultural identity. When you move across the world for your education, you often find yourself becoming more westernized - from the way you talk to the way you present yourself. And while this springs up fears of losing touch with sides of your culture that you value most; I came to learn that those parts of my identity will always be the biggest reflection of who I am. This picture symbolizes that struggle and acceptance - even if the world sees a westernized version of me, my identity will always reflect my Indian heritage, my family values, and my culture."
  • Amber Lin (@amber_x.lin): View Submission. "This work of mine is an illustration story about self-identity. It tells the story of a meteor prince who abandoned his own special and fell from the sky. I have written and painted many stories in my spare time, but I didn’t have the opportunity to show them with others. I am glad and thankful that you give me the chance to share. These stories are all my thoughts towards the world. Painting is just my hobby and my writing is not fluent as well, however, I still hope you could enjoy my work and feel my heart."

Judges' Vote

First place:

  • PreshyArts (@preshyarts): View Submission. "This piece for me is a visual representation and reflection of myself. The piece captures the same girl in the same moment however, with two different identities. My experience of being a person of colour in the way I interact with others around me I find can be alternative, be it my culture, faith or simply my personality. You sometimes find yourself not sticking to one version of yourself just to fit into your social environment, this can sometimes be unintentional. The girl looking at herself, is battling with an internal conflict and decision, as she is unsure on how to merge her two identities, as she doesn’t conform to just one version of herself."


  • Hafsah Ali (@_hafsah__4li): View Submission. "This is an acrylic painting on a canvas which I created, and my inspiration was the artist Antonie Stevens and the aspects of human emotion. It is my proudest piece, that I worked on and completed alongside my other art pieces. The theme I was aiming to replicate was ‘fragmentation’, symbolising hidden emotions which can be unstable, yet uncontainable. I painted this piece with the feeling of inner conflict and turmoil, this is reflected between the splitting head, and expressing fragmented anger and frustration."

A message from our organiser - Dami 

"Hi everyone, Dami here! I would just love to say a massive thank you to inclusion ambassadors and NUSU for helping us set up Claiming your space! Having an environment for BAME students to come together through art and share our experiences is so important on our journey, not only at university but in the wider world. As we navigate so many issues within society, having people around you that understand you and who you are is amazing. We must keep providing a multitude of opportunities for our students to continue to exceed and excel and inspire others with their stories, to exist unapologetically and continue to thrive. No student can be silenced, only amplified. We hope Claiming your space helped do this, thank you so much to our absolutely talented 14 students on their phenomenal pieces that moved myself, the judges, and the university so much! Thank you to everyone who helped make this project possible! A big congratulations to our four winners, Precious, Hafsah, Aastha and Amber, your stories, your pieces were so moving and motivating, thank you so much for sharing your world with us"

See all the submissions:

Submission by Anusha Ravi: View Submission
"This piece is inspired by my personal experience and the many recounted memories from my BAME friends: from a young age, we felt like we were silently policed in our appearances, accents, and behaviours to ‘fit in’ and be recognised as part of society. This poem depicts the self-acceptance that we learnt to gain over our lives and hopes to offer comfort to anyone feeling different or out of place. This piece wishes to share hope and encouragement for all BAME persons to exist in their own skins unashamedly, without any masquerades, as we rise above and defy unspoken norms."

Submission by Freda Tuor: View Submission
"Our Walk’ is a spoken word piece inspired by the Biblical story of Peter walking on water with Jesus. 
A story about faith in uncertainty.
A reminder (in the word of Kendrick Lamar), that as people, especially black people, ‘we gon' be alright’! "

Submission by Natural Langdon (@naturallangdon): View Submission
"I am Natural Langdon a Ph.D. candidate and researcher at Newcastle University, an award-winning Filmmaker, Photographer, and founder of "Global Arts and Travel Foundation”. My mission is to give a voice to the voiceless through film and photography sharing the rich diversity and beauty of Black people from different walks of life. I have travelled extensively through Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean in search of untold stories, authentic culture and exploring the contributions of people of African descent."

Submission by Julian Djopo (@juliandjopo_): View Submission
"This piece highlights the process of precedent study in architecture, however, rarely seen is the hand behind the study process...".

Submission by Raisa Kamila (@raisakamila_View Submission
"The illustration shows myself wearing a lab coat looking at my reflection in a mirror wearing traditional Indonesian clothing, a kebaya. The lab coat represents the degree I’m currently studying, engineering, and the shelf showcases some things that have become an important part of my daily life. Through this illustration, the message I aim to portray is one that describes the feeling of loss of identity often felt by first-generation immigrant children. As an Indonesian-born child who grew up in the UK, I’ve often felt like an outcast from society as I fit into neither British nor Indonesian cultures."

Submission by Sadiya Quazi (@sadiyaq_98): View Submission
"My parents migrated to England from Bangladesh. Isolated, they did their best to raised me with strong culture. Although our culture is beautiful - rich with art, spice, and generosity - as a child growing up in England surrounded by people that were disgusted at anything 'other', I hid it away.
My painting reflects this experience; in one hand of loving my heritage, while hiding it away with the other. I painted with turmeric, black tea and red berries. I wanted to symbolise that the West has taken much from Asia, and the irony of being looked down upon nonetheless."

Submission by Smruthi Venkat (@smruthi_97); View Submission
"Microaggressions are the lived experiences of every person of colour; expectations, anticipations and responses to people with darker skin are the inherent bias that exists in society. The remnants (and active continuation) of centuries of white colonialism that chains us to this day. Unless people are willing to unlearn this toxicity, we will never grow further into a future that treats people of colour- the way they deserve. Breaking this chain begins with understanding racism in all its facets; not just the man who screams profanities, but the colleague who believes colour doesn’t matter. Because it does. It always does."

Submission by Taiwo Thomas!  (@southpawsage): View Submission
"This is an expression of my struggle with false transient pleasures and how I manage the harm it causes me. I find it especially important to confront these issues now because I left Nigeria to come to the UK and I can see the difference in liberty and prosperity available here. It offer more opportunity to pursue sweet things that do not really matter. Now I am at crossroads between chasing false pleasures because I now have the means to or exercise restraint and search within to find my true purpose and self."

Submission by Tinisha Osu (@tiniisha): View Submission
"My name is Tinisha and I am Nigerian, Malaysian, and White. I have often struggled with finding a true community and sense of belonging in terms of my race. I have dyed my hair blonde and straightened my curls for many years so I could ‘fit in’. Although I am proud of my heritage, this is a struggle I have faced and was always too ashamed to talk about. I’m now hoping I can embrace the three my African and Asian roots and I hope this shows that."

Submission by Zena Agha: View Submission
"Zena Agha is a Palestinian-Iraqi writer and poet raised in London. The poem ‘Safe’ comes from her poetry manuscript ‘Objects from April and May’ which was a finalist for the Alice James Book Award 2020 and the Omnidawn First/Second Book Prize. It was written at the Millay Colony for the Arts in Hudson, New York. The title serves a dual purpose: it plays with the theme of safety in English while being a transliteration of the word for sword in classical Arabic."


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