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. In 2017 Apna became properly constituted and moved to premises on Manchester Road, Haslingden which it shared with the Dave Pearson Studio. The organisation received funding from the Tudor Trust, and ran a wide range of projects including a book group, textile classes, Chai and Chat sessions, and women’s health education programmes.
In 2020 Tudor Trust funding ended, and with the Covid19 pandemic Apna meetings and group sessions finished at Manchester Road. Arry moved to Swindon to be with her partner, but it’s a measure of the success that Apna has achieved that the group has reformed under the name CHAI Rossendale, to develop and follow creative, heritage and other initiatives in a wide range of directions, including projects with The Whitaker Museum & Art Gallery.:
Exhibition at Manchester Whitworth Art Gallery:
‘Ours, Yours, Everybody’s’ (February – May 2018) was 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 were 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 and has encouraged other groups to develop projects centred on the market.
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 Rossendale 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.