The changing faces of Nottingham told through a community

sized photoA look into Nottingham’s Hyson Green community and how it has changed since the 1980s is the focus of a new exhibition by award-winning artist Mahtab Hussain.

This is not your average exhibition that many artists decide to create. The Commonality of Strangers is award-winning commentary artist Mahtab Hussain’s newest project giving local voices in Hyson Green a chance to be heard. Told through photographs and first person accounts, Mahtab Hussain creates a truly fascinating story of how Nottingham’s inner city has changed over the past 30 to 40 years.

The message that the exhibition portrays is one based on race, nationality, religion and ethnicity.

Mahtab Hussain

Commissioned by the New Art Exchange, Mr. Hussain explored the streets of Hyson Green talking to shop owners, and long term residents for several months in order for his exhibition is come to life.

In Nottingham, and now many parts of Britain, there are multiple ethnic groups living in areas that were 70% British or Jamaican over two decades ago.

This change is one that Mahtab draws upon in his exhibition, and it is that Romanian gypsies and Polish Roma nationalities have arrived in force with not one good word to say about their home countries.

Shown in photographs, the Romanian families are large and full of character, with many of their relatives arriving in Britain to stay in England.



In the past, crime has been a massive issue in Hyson Green. In 2012 crime was at an all-time high with 172 crimes committed between March and May. Yet many residents say it is the worst thing about their neighbourhood, Tracey Sharples said:

“People are too scared to come forward because of the repercussions so I don’t know what the answer is, perhaps more CCTV”


A recent update from Nottinghamshire Police shows the improvement the area has made:

“Compared with last year, so far this financial year, we have suffered fewer house burglaries, robberies and car crime” Nottinghamshire Police


The exhibition has been on since January 30th, with hopes that it’ll bring the Hyson Green community closer together. By exploring the lives of other cultures that surround local residents, Mahtab hopes the ‘Commonality of Strangers’ will give them a chance to see similarities in people they wouldn’t normally speak to.

The issue of immigration is one that has been around in Britain for years now. Creative programme assistant at the New Art Exchange Bethan Davies, who also lives in Hyson Green, speaks about this issue and the current climate with the general election coming up in May.


The exhibition can be viewed until April 12th 2015 at the New Art Exchange.






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