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Sayra Begum released her first graphic novel, Mongrel in August 2020, published by Knockabout Comics and supported by Arts Council England. Mongrel tells the story of a British Muslim woman who grew up in-between two cultures. The protagonist, Shuna, challenges conventions, looking beneath the surface to celebrate differences and reveal our common humanity.

Begum’s style is influenced by Islamic miniatures and Surrealism. She is interested in theology, our relationship to the environment, to each other, and the reality that exists beyond our perception. Her primary tools are mechanical pencils, but she is experimenting with developing her technique in other mediums. She is currently scripting her next graphic novel, a story based on her grandparents and their encounter with a Djinn.

Begum studied BA Illustration at Plymouth College of Art (2014) where she discovered graphic novels in the university’s library. It was Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis that had a significant influence on her. On the MA Illustration course at Falmouth University (2016), she decided to focus on graphic memoirs, particularly memoirs belonging to female and marginalised voices. Her journey with Mongrel began there and was at the centre of her creative practice until its completion in 2020.

Begum recently obtained her PGCHE and tutors on the MA Illustration course at Falmouth University.

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Education

2021 – Falmouth University – Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE)

2016 – Falmouth University – Illustration: Authorial Practice MA

2014 – Plymouth College of Art – Illustration BA (Hons)

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And Other Things

2021 – British Book Design and Production Awards, Graphic Novel Shortlist 

2021 – Comics Cultural Exchange Residency in Prague, organised by Lakes International Comic Art Festival and Czech Literary Centre

2021 – Guest speaker, Laydeez Do Comics, Online

2020 – Exhibitor, In-Between, TOMA Time Bank Space, Southend-on-Sea

2020 – Exhibitor, On Point, Surface Gallery, Online

2020 – Guest Lecturer, Narrative and Storytelling, Online MA Illustration, Falmouth University

2019 – Facilitator, Movement in Memory: A Comic Book Workshop, Tate Modern, London

2019 – Guest and speaker, Portsmouth Comic Con, Hampshire

2019 – DYCP Grant, Art Council England

2018 – Speaker, Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Lake District

2018 – Exhibitor, The Inside Job, Tate Modern, London

 2017, 2018 – Guide, Tate St Ives, Cornwall

2017, 2018 – Activity leader, Memory Café, Cornwall

2017 – Visiting lecturer, Graphic Memoir, Falmouth University, Cornwall

2015, 2017 – Exhibitor, The Collaborators, The Exchange, Cornwall

2016 – Exhibitor, Saphronia, Falmouth University, Cornwall

2016 – Exhibitor, Imagined Worlds, Taunton, Bath, Nether Stowey

2016 – Atlantic Press Award for Excellence in Graphic Literature

2015 – Internship, Newlyn Gallery & The Exchange, Cornwall

2014 – Publication, (kV) Series, Pylon Press

2012 – Collaboration with Razwan Ul-Haq on illustrations for Sultan Vs. Dracula

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Upcoming

Oct 2021 – Guest, Lakes International Comic Art FestivalLake District

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Reviews

brokenfrontier.com, Mongrel – Sayra Begum’s Study of Intergenerational Conflict and the Pull of Two Cultures Makes for an Assured Debut Graphic Novel

bookmunch.wordpress.com, “we applaud it” – Mongrel by Sayra Begum

comicsgrinder.com, Review: Mongrel by Sayra Begum, published by Knockabout Comics

downthetubes.net, In Review: Mongrel by Sayra Begum 

fanbasepress.com, Mongrel: Advance Graphic Novel Review

grovel.org.uk, Mongrel, Life growing up as a British Muslim is artfully documented in Sayra Begum’s autobiographical debut graphic novel

massmovement.co.uk, Mongrel – Sayra Begum (Knockabout)

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Interviews

Showcase Magazine, A graphic memoir

comicartfestival.com, Lakes Festival Focus: Sayra Begum