A new artwork by Rasheed Araeen


Food for thought: thought for change

We wish to invite you to visit and participate in Shamiyaana, a new artwork by Rasheed Araeen that signals one of his most challenging works to date, encompassing six decades of artistic practice within a single work.

Shamiyaana can be viewed as an extension to Araeen’s studio. It is a testament to Araeen’s belief in the untapped power of collective action, as well as his concerns with climate change, food production, sustainability and ecology.

Shamiyaana takes on a permanent role within the local community in Stoke Newington, the whole of London and much further afield. It is a comfortable place for individuals, a meeting place for couples, groups and societies, a cultural space for free discourse and encountering new acquaintances, as well as a fully operational restaurant.

'Like other works by Rasheed Araeen, the title of this work "Shamiyaana" offers many connotations, and like other works is compiled from the sum of its parts literally: we can see how it is put together in its modular formation. With Shamiyanna, Rasheed Araeen has created a space for whiling the hours surrounded by colourful geometries and fuelled by delicious and comforting food. In the heart of Hackney it promises to become a haven for conversation, debate and sheer enjoyment.'

The Space

Guests enter via a wine bar area, where snacks, both small mezze and larger plates can be enjoyed with drinks sitting at glass topped tables designed by Araeen. Large diamond shaped coloured gels decorate the four entrance windows and project beams of colour into the space and onto the other works.

The lower floor provides further dining both indoors and outside in the garden area. The installation on both floors has been developed by Araeen as a vital part of the inclusive experience of Shamiyaana.

Designed with colourful wooden furniture and Araeen's bold geometric Opus paintings adorning the walls, the space draws reference to Araeen's original works, creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere for the local community and visitors from further afield.

Shamiyaana - Food for thought: thought for change at Kotzia Square, Athens, during documenta 14, 2017.


The subject of Food and Art has been a conceptual proposition within the work of Rasheed Araeen throughout his lifetime. 

‘In 1975-76, I regularly cooked food and distributed among the audience of the Sunday art events at Artists for Democracy (AFD) in London. AFD was founded by a group of artists, led by David Medalla, who were involved in the early Seventies, first in the working class struggles and then turned to art activities in support of antiracist and anti-imperialist struggles worldwide. After successfully organising an art festival against the brutality of Pinochet’s military regime in Chile, at the Royal College of Art in 1974, they established a squat in a derelict building in west London with a space for art events, meetings and exhibitions. I joined the collective in the early 1975, on the invitation of David Medalla, and held my first exhibition there. AFD had no money and the Sunday gatherings needed some kind of refreshment. So I decided to cook food. People would bring their own drinks and I provided “curry n’ rice” for a small sum of money which was then used for the petty expenses of AFD.’ (Rasheed Araeen, 2011)

The first major manifestation of this interest was unveiled in the form of Shamiyaana – Food for Thought: Thought for Change at Documenta14, Athens, 2017. Araeen invited passers-by to sit together with strangers beneath multi-coloured canopies and enjoy a meal based on recipes from around the Mediterranean, cooked in collaboration with Organization Earth, a Greek non-profit NGO founded in 2010, whose mission is the development of the concept of environmental & social intelligence, with the aim to promote competencies such as critical thinking and making informed decisions by participating and collaborating. 

Shamiyaana for People

The profits from Shamiyaana (London) will be going to charitable projects, particularly in Africa, to develop organic collective farms on the land reclaimed from the Sahara desert. 

'[Rasheed Araeen] continues to aim his practice radically, toward forms of social art reaching for transformative collaboration. The "eco-aesthetic" projects proposed in the essays of Art Beyond Art (2010) challenge us to rethink our relations to land, sea, and place, the contact zones of nature-culture.' (Gene Ray, Documenta 2014)