Of course this trip would never have happened without our Nottingham fam, Emily Catherine Emily is a freelance illustrator who has lived in Nottingham for twenty-seven years, she knows the spots and peeps to hit up when in town, always making it a pleasure to visit and getting us the vip treatment when visiting art spaces, what a legend she is and what an honour to have her as a grand influence for our collective.

Hooking up with our other Notts FerArts members; Deepey was in the middle of packing up to head back to Birmingham, firming it at University in Notts... formally known as Dan Price, Deepey has built an impressive portfolio, with a spectacular range of digital portraits pioneering the next generation of illustrators. Bless Dan had to deal with 8 Londoners loud and mad hype across the humble town centre looking for a Nandos lol!

Safe and sound in the bold black cube that sits on the corner proudly NAE, We linked up with Notts artist Artgoon! Everytime we come up we have a chance to link up for a bit, talk art, talk life and an opportunity for more members to get to put a face to the name thats not only acclaimed digital artist for album artwork such as Giggs Landlord album but also highly commissioned by the linkes of culture brands KA and Grm Daily. NAE presents The Path, a new solo exhibition by Moroccan-British photographer Hassan Hajjaj.

Featuring new works from the celebrated My Rock Stars series; a new collection of previously unseen travel photographs, In Between; new works from the Dakka Marrakchia series and a site-specific installation called Le Salon. This inspiring showcase exhibits Hassan Hajjaj’s diverse wealth of work, curated by Ekow Eshun.

Hajjaj’s work is characterised by a melody of colours, patterns, bootleg brand logos and everyday objects, such as the Sprite cans and moroccan tomato tins he works into his picture frames which are all handmade to fit each installation (something we had no idea was part of his design process).

Much of Hajjaj’s work focuses on figures whose family origins mostly lie abroad, in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East or elsewhere. Through this theme, Hajjaj conjures a vision of a society united, not divided, by difference. At a time of major conflict within Britain, Hajjaj’s portraits make an urgent, timely case in favour of hybridity and multiculturalism. In his images, cultural identity is seen as fluid and multiple rather than fixed and singular.At NAE Hajjaj turns his focus to British personalities, concentrating primarily on figures such as the painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, jazz musician Kamaal Williams and the shoe designer Marc Hare. As always, his subjects hail from a range of cultural backgrounds creating, in composite, a portrait of Britain at its most dynamically diverse.

For this exhibition, NAE commissioned Hajjaj to produce an additional portrait of a resident from Nottingham, inspired by Hajjaj’s My Rock Stars series and the artist’s approach to celebrating everyday people. Everyday Superstars was a project that invited the local community to nominate remarkable individuals from the city; calling for activists campaigning for social change, supporters of young people, individuals who have accomplished in the face of adversity, or simply amazing talents worthy of recognition. The Everyday Superstars winner, who will be revealed on the launch of the exhibition, was selected by a panel of young people. Styled and photographed by Hajjaj, their portrait will appear in The Path, positioned alongside Hajjaj’s other ‘rock stars’. The portrait and accompanying story of the remaining Everyday Superstars nominees will also be displayed at NAE in the venue’s Central Gallery space, photographed this time by local artist, Richard Chung.

For the first time in the UK, Hajjaj showed a selection of his photography that focuses on landscape, place and sensibility, rather than portraiture. Reflecting the artist’s travels in Africa and the Middle East, the photographs reveal Hajjaj in a new light, as a photographer concerned with the intimacies of everyday life as well as the performed presentation of the self. Hajjaj shifts the focus away from a narrative that positions the ordinary people of the developing world as extras in the drama of globalisation – as refugees, migrants and dollar-a-day strugglers. In Hajjaj’s portraits they are not figures on the margins. They are no less than rock stars in the waiting.

Observing that the celebration and encouragement of creativity sit at the heart of Hajjaj’s practice, The Path converted the NAE’s Mezzanine Gallery space into Le Salon – a beautiful and unique space designed and furnished by Hajjaj. This is where we were blessed to have a few sessions with the team, learn about their curatorial roles, their experiences and achievements in working at NAE as creative locals!

Le salon was designed for reading, research and relaxation, but importantly, the space is also a platform to showcase and foster local talent. Over the period of the exhibition, Le Salon will serve as an open space for local performers, musicians and spoken word artists to share their creativity with others.

We can't thank the team at NAE enough for this visit, Skinder for his amazing hospitality and time dedicated to chat to our group.