Namuna Shahi Namuna Shahi Namuna Shahi, was one of Shape's Young Leaders, here she talks about her involvement with Shape arts. Are there any artists you feel particularly inspired by? There are many artists that inspire me with different projects that I have worked on - it is difficult to select a favourite artist. Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq has inspired me whilst on the Inspiring Futures programme. She is my mentor, and encourages me to think and develop new ideas for my art, to learn ways to collect my thoughts together, and to demonstrate what my current interests are as an artist. Where would you most like to see your work exhibited? At Shape Arts Gallery in Westfield and London. What has been your involvement with Shape Arts? I have researched deaf and disabled art and artists back in university, in order to plan what to do when I leave. I wanted to be involved with Shape Arts and their artists so as to feel that I can continue, as an artist, to exhibit and to develop myself. This is how I found the Inspiring Futures project. The project has provided group mentoring, individual mentoring, and training sessions for young disabled artists and workshops. The project helped me build my confidence to meet new people, and I haved learned about other people’s experiences, knowing that I was not alone as a deaf and disabled artist. Whilst being on the programme I have gained practical skills like marketing through social media. I feel Shape Arts can offer me the opportunity to grow as an artist. What advice would you offer another young disabled aspiring artist? To keep motivated and never give up if it’s their goal to become an artist. Continue to develop more artworks so that audiences will remember you and your work. Art isn’t always easy, but just keep going. Have you found any challenges trying to set yourself up as a self-defined disabled artist? My challenges are that I am myself profoundly deaf and I have attended mainstream school, college, and then university. Communication can be a barrier. To become an artist I had to learn that communication is needed through networking and useful contacts. By attending the Inspiring Futures programme I learnt to build my confidence, to brush up on my Artist Statement and to develop networking skills. I would like encourage young aspiring artists to learn this and value it. There are challenges associated with becoming an art teacher - through mentoring, I am learning about trying to achieve this, which I hope would lead me to become a more confident self-defined deaf artist.