The Victoria and Albert museum is always crowded, even on a random Tuesday in August.  But this August, upon entering the V&A entrance hall, one will see three large canvas tapestries created by interdisciplinary artist Osman Yousefzada - mostly known for his fashion collections and more recently his book relaying his experiences growing up in a strict community in England.

Dark figures are drawn and sewn on azure and magenta backdrops, resembling Talismanic figures. One of them is tied into a spiderweb of black threads, another shadowy wears braided hair, emerging out of the tapestry.  In his installations, the British-Pakistani artist contemplates displacement, movement and migration of the Pakistani people on the occasion of the the 75th anniversary of their independence. The fact that Osman’s work is scattered around the museum already touches on one aspect of the themes: displacement.

Osman translates this feeling of being on the move, lost and scared into a piece found in the central garden of the V&A: Brightly coloured Pakistani mora stools in shades of teal and red are scattered along the grass. The longer one sits, the faster they wander: Picked up, moved, set down again only to be picked up to move again.

One fact transmitted is that even though Pakistan contributes only 1% to green gas emissions it  s in turn the 5th most vulnerable country to climate change. Rising temperatures cause floods of the Himalayan ice reservoirs, resulting in displacement and loss of Pakistani people.  The last artwork, hidden in the 25th sculpture room, consists of a makeshift shelf with household pieces, wrapped in colourful fabric and plastic. This piece is meant to highlight the female perspective, inspired by Osman's mother to whom he was very close and protective of. We are not able to see what is beneath the wrapping, alluding to the hidden women of Pakistani origin, who were often hidden away, unable to integrate into their local communities, as Osman recounts in his excellent book The Go-Between.

The exhibition, commissioned by the British Council in partnership with the V&A and the Pakistan High Commission, is bringing diaspora voices to the heart of the museum, showing powerfully how it feels to never really arrive.

Catch Yousefzada’s installations for free at the V&A from 29th July until 25th September 2022.