A SHIRLEY artist has been bestowed an honour in the King’s first Birthday Honours list.
Salma Zulfiqar, the founder and director of ARTconnects, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to art and education.
She developed the ARTconnects to empower vulnerable girls and women in the West Midlands by promoting peace and tolerance to create a better understanding between different cultures through art, while improving mental health.
She creates artwork alongside families to empower and educate them and educate communities about their suffering and bring them closer together and create cohesion and understanding between new and host communities.
Speaking about her honour she said: “I’m very surprised and very humbled to receive this award.
“Much of my working life has been about pushing for justice and humanity with destitute women and children at the heart of my work. Making a real difference in the lives of those less fortunate and in dire need of assistance has been my mission in the UK and abroad. So many people in new and host communities are suffering right now due to the cost of living crisis and my work is about supporting them through creativity and raising awareness of their needs.”
She has also worked in Afghanistan with the United Nations and was tasked to report on human rights related issues and the suffering of the people to highlight where aid was needed most.
The country was under Taliban rule during her visit and had to follow their rules while carrying out her work.
Earlier this year she was also received the British Citizen Award, dubbed the People’s Honour Award, at the Palace of Westminster for her exceptional contribution to the Arts.
ARTconnects main collaborative artwork is the educational Migration Blanket project, which is exhibiting as part of the Solihull Welcomes Festival 2023 at The Core Gallery.