The Future is Loading

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View the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading exhibition, featuring the work of 25 marginalised artists! 

"2020 has been a paradigm shift for many, a year like no other. A time of raw hardship and sudden turmoil in the midst of which we have witnessed gestures of care and support capable of reminding us: we need each other. 

For many disabled and marginalised people, familiar with adversity, witnessing the world come to a halt in a matter of days has paradoxically generated hope. Hope that, for once, the world might take greater heed of what it means to be shut away, impoverished and excluded. 

For people who are marginalised in the present day, facing discrimination and barriers to access, imagining the future can be an act of radical defiance.

As the crisis has evolved and its shockwaves travelled, we find it acting as a catalyst for many other significant conversations, in the home, the workplace, or whilst, in the case of the Black Lives Matter movement, taking to the streets in an assertion of grief and outrage. In this time of reflection and learning, a plurality of realisations has occurred. With this, widespread unrest and demands for change have arisen.

More than our lives, entire structures have been thrown into the air by what we are living though, revealing the outlines of a starkly unequal world. In the process, a pandemic of health has radicalised mainstream debate, and we are no longer shying away from discussing the pre-existing pandemics of racism, of gender discrimination, barriers to inclusion and advancement, of gaping inequality, isolation, and disenfranchisement. The list goes on.

Set against this uncertain and restless backdrop, where risk of greater exclusion battles with unique opportunities for change, we at Shape are looking to the future as an act of hope.

For people who are marginalised in the present day, facing discrimination and barriers to access, imagining the future can be an act of radical defiance. It is the act of making a claim to a space that is otherwise denied ­– and for once, marginalised people have the agency to place themselves at its centre."


The Shape Open is our annual exhibition of artwork by disabled and non-disabled artists created in response to a disability-centred theme. The Open provides a space where disabled and non-disabled artists can discuss and exchange views and ideas about issues and topics which are often sidelined within artistic debate.

The Future is Loading / Shape Open 2020

Curated and creatively produced by Shape Arts 


Arts Council England logo.

Banner image: 'Samin' from 'Tale of Tresses' by Maral Mamaghani. Image courtesy of the artist.


Affiliation with Shape: Maral contributed to the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading.


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Maral Mamaghani graduated with an MA from the School of Jewellery and Silversmithing from Birmingham City University in 2017. During her time at BCU, Maral created work that drew on her experience with feminism, oppression, and the forced wearing of the hijab [veil] in Iran as a Deaf Iranian woman.

Leaving Iran and studying in the UK gave Maral a new perspective on the issues surrounding women’s rights. She began to use human hair as a material within her work, the hair representing the long-term political struggle that exists in Iran.

About 'Tale of Tresses' which Maral contributed to The Future is Loading...

Drawing on her own roots as an Iranian woman, and her interest in feminism, Maral explored the issue of the hijab [veil]. As a woman in Iran, you are not allowed to uncover your hair or talk about feminism or sexuality as these are ‘forbidden matters.’ Looking at this problem from outside, Maral discovered that hair, as a material, could represent the long-term political struggle that existed in Iran. Maral explored this conceptually by creating a series of brooches with her own and other friends’ hair. The brooch symbolizes their own individual characters and personality coming together, and the stories that they, as women, reflect upon. 

Moreover, the shape of the coconut shell resembles women’s breasts. This provokes discomfort for many Iranians, preventing some from willingly wearing the brooch.

Dorsa – “She is into warm tones and the mysterious and primitive shapes from ancient human drawings. I tried to weave her hair into the wood, in her favourite shape – the triangle. I did this in the traditional way that people made baskets. The triangle is upside down, representing the shape of the womb, to show her femininity.”

Samin – “She is outward, warm-hearted, and sympathetic; however, she is broken inside and tries to hide her sadness by always bringing joy and giving confidence to everyone. I made her brooch like a bridge. She always wants to connect with people and is keen to help; she is flexible and communicates well with everyone.”

Hasti – “She is thoughtful but, on the other hand, she has a silly side. I wanted to show the two parts of her character. She thinks before saying anything, which is represented by the top of the piece. The shape of the natural, curved hair, free of limits, shows how crazy she can be.”

Watch Maral discuss 'Tale of Tresses' which she contributed to The Future Is Loading exhibition...



View all The Future Is Loading artist profiles