Art

Featured Artist Spotlight: Zayyena Shoaib Anwar on being inspired by the city’s iconic Northern Quarter

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At aAh! we aim to shine a spotlight on our talented student community. To celebrate the launch of The FRESHERS Issue 23/24 and our ‘Welcome Home to Manchester’ theme, we caught up with this issue’s shortlisted featured artists.


Zayyena Shoaib Anwar is an international student from Dubai who came to Manchester to pursue art. She is currently in her final year studying Fine Art at Manchester Met. She is a passionate painter who loves to explore the world of colours and creativity on canvas.

Zayyena also cherishes the simple joys of life, for example getting a coffee with friends and, of course, there’s always time for a good Netflix binge show. We caught up with Zayyena about her work, how the city should be represented, and her advice to other artists.


Zayyena Shoaib Anwar’s piece shortlisted for The FRESHERS Issue 23/24.

Zayyena, can you tell us a bit about what inspired your piece Manchester 02 Thomas Street?

This piece is a painting of an iconic building in the Northern Quarter. I get attached to places and experiences very easily and always feel the need to document the most important/personal ones.

What are your favourite mediums to work in and why? 

Acrylic paint and gouache paint. My favourite thing about them is how versatile they both are. 

Which artist do you respect the most? 

Owen Rival.

What does Manchester mean to you? 

It’s my second home. I’ve enjoyed my time in Manchester so much so far and have got to meet the most amazing people, make such fun art and explore and see so much that I haven’t back home. 

What have you noticed about the art scene here? 

The arts and cultural offerings in Manchester are exceptional, and cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re a fan of art galleries, theatre, music, or museums, there’s something here to captivate everyone. There’s so many places to visit, my favourite being the Northern Quarter.

What advice would you give new students who want to get more involved in art?

Walk around the city and document everything you possibly can! Take pictures, notes and most importantly, keep a sketchbook and pen with you at all times. Also, MMU has amazing art workshops happening all year around so always keep an eye out for those. Another thing I’ve learnt is that don’t worry too much about your work looking “perfect”. Just make, make, make!


You can follow Zayyena @zayyenart on Instagram.

Pick up your copy of The FRESHERS Issue 23/24 on campus or read online. Follow @aAh_mag to get the best from your student magazine.

About the author / 

Jenna Muiderman

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