Apna is a word used in many languages across South Asia meaning ‘ours, yours or everybody’s’. Apna Rossendale grew out of the Different Moons programme, and was initially an experimental and temporary project based in a small pop-up shop premises in the centre of Haslingden.
The Apna project would never have happened without the energy and commitment of Arry Nessa. Arry’s family live in Haslingden, although until recently she lived in Manchester, travelling back and forth on public transport. In 2017 Apna became properly constituted and moved to premises on Manchester Road, Haslingden which it shares with the Dave Pearson Studio. The organisation receives funding from the Tudor Trust, and the management of Apna now includes a larger group of local women. The support of the Tudor Trust has meant that there’s currently a small part-time staff, along with an associated training programme.
In 2020 Tudor Trust funding finally ended, and the Covid19 pandemic came along. As a result of these two things Apna meetings and group sessions finished at Manchester Road. However, it’s the intention that the organisation continues, but in a looser form. It’s a measure of the success that Apna has achieved over the past five years that there is now the confidence among the group to develop and follow creative, heritage and other initiatives in a wide range of directions. Apna also acts as an advisory body to the local council.
Since the move to Manchester Road Apna Rossendale continued in its role in offering various classes and workshops, mainly to local women of South Asian heritage, including language classes, health awareness, cooking (in conjunction with Manchester Road Methodist Church, which is directly opposite Apna on Manchester Road) and yoga. During this time the main events have been:
Exhibition at Manchester Whitworth Art Gallery:
‘Ours, Yours, Everybody’s’ (February – May 2018) a collaboration between the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester and Apna, telling stories of women between two worlds. Significant textiles from their lives and objects from the gallery’s collection are displayed alongside pieces they have made together, seeking to revive textile traditions that are disappearing.
Ceremonial clothes, kantha embroidery and mirrorwork were chosen from the Whitworth’s collection. These sparked a range of stories, from a monsoon on a wedding day in Pakistan to grey, rainy days in the North of England. These stories – told through sessions in Rossendale and at the Whitworth – were literally spun, woven and stitched into the centre of each new piece.
Rossendale Food Festival :
The first Food Festival was held in the otherwise moribund market-place in Haslingden, and brought the place to life. Arry Nessa devised, managed and coordinated the festival and stalls included the Apna cooking group along with ladies from Manchester Road church. It was a very successful event that brought together food, Asian arts and music as well as showcasing the work of Apna. The Food Festival brought together people from all communities.
The Silk Road project:
The Amal charity funded a project organised by Apna and led by the artist Maryam Golubeva, who constructed a large paper-cut installation within an Islamic tent structure, which was erected on the altar of the Manchester Road Methodist Church. This was part of a literature festival, curated by Arry, and included classes held at Apna, and readings throughout Haslingden and Rossendale. The event was also supported by Horse + Bamboo, and brought together women from the church congregation and the ladies of Apna.
Chai & Chat :
These informal sessions have been the bread and butter of the work for the staff at Apna. Bringing together women from the local community in regular sessions that create an opportunity to discuss and debate issues of shared concern in a relaxed and safe environment..