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Soofiya: The Things That Shape Us

8 April 202230 April 2022

The Things That Shape Us is a radical exploration of self-image and existing in public as a brown, visibly gender non-conforming person in Britain today by artist and designer Soofiya.

About the exhibition

About the exhibition Soofiya says: “Existing in public and spaces when you are visibly gender non-conforming can often be violent, scary and filled with harassment. Every time I step out of the house I risk and experience varying degrees of harassment. To constantly be watched, judged and questioned because of the way you look is an agonising way of navigating the world and spaces.

I believe all work carries therapeutic value and this show explores what it means to give this space to my body.  With every painting and drawing my intention is to try to make this body feel like home. This show is also an opportunity and invitation for you to do the same with your body. As you make your way around the space, take time to reflect on the questions asked.

The Things That Shape Us showcases a series of self-portraits. In each one I’m trying to find ways to hold space for the realities of my body and its changes beyond my control. The power of using self-portraiture is a means to subvert an often hostile ‘cis-gender gaze’. This show invites you to share this space of living in my liminal body. Here we can grieve and share anxiety but also celebrate and build community through universal human experience around body image. At its core this work honours and affirms gender non-conformity and the ways in which a body can and does challenge Eurocentricity.”

About the artist

Soofiya is an artist and designer whose work explores ideas around race, gender and bodies. Soofiya’s work holds space for often difficult, complex and nuanced subjects through a colourful, playful and often illustration approach. Their client list includes BBC, Nike, Tate Modern, gal-dem, Greenpeace, the Barbican and more. 



Wednesday: 1 – 6pm
Thursday: 1 – 6pm
Friday: 1 – 6pm
Saturday: 1 – 4pm

**Please note we will only be open 4 – 7pm on Friday 8 April for the exhibition launch**


Please note we currently have the following Covid safety measures in place:

  • Face masks are encouraged, unless exempt
  • Capacity limited to 20 people at any one time
  • If you are experiencing Covid symptoms or have tested positive in the last 7 days we kindly ask you not to visit the gallery to keep our staff and the public safe

Thank you for your understanding.


Image credit: artwork by Soofiya

Image description: self portrait of the artist Soofiya who has their head resting on their arms which are folded in front of them. A sad distant and somewhat resigned expression is on their face. The portrait is made up of loose expressive brush strokes with a moody dark blue background.


8 April 2022
30 April 2022
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ONCA Gallery
14 St George's Place
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GB United Kingdom

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Please contact or 01273 607101 if you have specific access needs, please note the gallery is wheelchair accessible but the toilet is up five stairs. We have hearing assistive technology and our staff have Basic BSL & Deaf Awareness training. For more information about access and facilities at ONCA please click here.


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