We, at Aleph, are delighted to bring back our Digital Guest Curation with two guest editors (and sisters at that!), Shahbano and Alia Bilgrami, who will co-curate the website for the month of September 2023. Shahbano is a published author and Alia an artist. They’ll begin their curation with a joint piece including Shahbano’s prose and Alia’s artwork. Both have appeared in previous volumes of The Aleph Review, and we are glad to have them curate our digital volume this month.
Their selection of texts and art focuses on the broad theme of motherhood in its multiple facets. Ranging from the deeply personal to the comic and historic, these contributions highlight both the heartache and the humour of this most fundamental of human relationships.
Shahbano Bilgrami is a published poet, writer and educational consultant whose love of literature began at age ten, when her Nana introduced her to Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and Pride and Prejudice. Since then, she has loved all things books. Born in Rawalpindi, Shahbano was educated in Canada, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. After a decade in educational publishing, she wrote Without Dreams (HarperCollins 2007), which was long listed for the Inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize (2007) followed by Those Children (Harper Collins India/HarperCollins360 (2018), which was long listed for the DSC Prize for South Asian Fiction (2017). Shahbano’s articles have been published in numerous print and online magazines. She has been a panelist at international literary festivals and has written and edited extensively for adults and children of all ages. She is currently working on her third novel and is also involved in two largescale educational projects for primary schools.
Alia Bilgrami is a Pakistani-Canadian visual artist and curator based in The Hague. The tulip has become a personal symbol in her art that stems from its fascinating history. As fate would have it, like the tulip, she has recently found a home in the Netherlands. Bilgrami spent her early years in Montreal, Canada, and then Karachi, Pakistan, where she completed her BFA from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (2007). In 2008, she did a curatorial research internship at the National Museum of Asian Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. She completed her MA from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, in 2010 where she won the Cecil Collins Memorial Award for Drawing. After graduation, she worked as curator, first at Rohtas Gallery and then at Khaas Gallery, Islamabad, where she went on to become Head Curator (2010-2019). Bilgrami has shown her work in many international exhibitions, including two solo presentations. One of her paintings won the Sovereign Asian Art Public Vote Prize, Hong Kong (2015). Bilgrami has attended several artists-in-residence programs, most recently in Trelex, Switzerland (2020). She is a member of Stroom, Den Haag, since 2020 and Kunstenaars in het Statenkwartier (KS) from 2022.
We hope you enjoy their own work and their selections!
Editor in Chief