Naseem ‘Naz’ Syed is the Director of Ziba Creative and a freelance visual artist. Being a secondary school Design and Technology teacher for many years, Naz now works as a community engagement officer with theatres and projects throughout South East Wales. She is passionate about supporting the arts within the local community.

With more than 20 years of experience working in community and education settings across a range of visual art disciplines, Naz is also an Arts Award adviser, Facilitator of the Night Out project, Arts Council of Wales, as well as a Creative Agent and Practitioner for the Lead Creative Schools Scheme.

Her passion lies in the power of the arts to connect and empower individuals, communities, and cultures, bringing them all together to create a sense of belonging and oneness. Simply put, how art can transform the perception of yourself and others, by promoting wellbeing and mindfulness.

Last year, Naz founded the community project ‘Lost Connections’ - Sharing the stories of lockdown, through the hearts and hands of the community - and launched Art Clwb online to support creativity at home. Working with others and building their confidence to develop creative skills is a driving force of her practice.

The public’s response to ‘Lost Connections’ has been greatly received, so much so that it has taken up much of Naz’s time, but she is determined to help capture the stories from the people of Newport and beyond during the global pandemic. There are more than fifty stories to view online with people sharing their experiences of living alongside Covid-19.

Naz has extended the deadline to give more people the chance to be a part of the project. With another national lockdown in full swing, she could not quite end the project just yet.

Naz said “I love seeing the joy that ‘being allowed to create’ can bring to someone’s day – seeing the wonderful creative spark ignite as their minds go into overdrive with ideas.”

“I started Art Clwb - #CreatewithNaz - in April of 2020 at the start of the first lockdown. I volunteered my time on Sofa Share Wales with live workshops, community art galleries and featured artists each week. Since then, the collaborations with other creatives to develop art clwb and lost connections online has really been amazing – big shout out to Savanna, Fez, Arron, Louise, Catherine, Gareth and Nic!

“The current times have all made us feel isolated and I find that art is a fantastic way of bringing people together.

“Growing up, my favourite art show had to be ‘Hart Beat’ with Tony Hart. This wonderful children’s programme was incredibly imaginative in showing examples of things to make at home, and I loved the gallery showing children’s work at the end of each episode.

“I’ve recently enjoyed watching Grayson’s Art Club, Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas and absolutely love Noel Fielding’s Art Club too. All these shows have been a big inspiration to me when creating projects.

“I am also heavily inspired by things around me. What is happening in and around our homes, inspire the Art Clwb themes too. An example of this is the use of rainbows, which people have been creating works of art in support of the NHS.

“Sometimes I simply ask the community what they would like to create. Other times projects are solely focused on the materials used or recycling things like an odd sock into a funky caterpillar.

“Before Christmas, I took Art Clwb on tour to the Newport Museum and Art Gallery. Once the world gets back to some normality, I would like to visit more cultural and heritage venues, as well as visiting schools, colleges, and groups further afield to share ideas and gain new experiences.

“I’ve also recently delivered art workshops online for numerous organisations and charities including, Head4arts, Maindee Festival, Barnardos, Theatr Iolo and Llantarnam Grange.”

Naz created more than 980 art packs last year for communities, families, young people and older adults in textiles, collage, art, and wellbeing kits to support families in need and support those without digital access. She is now busy creating the next packs for different charities, organisations, and Art Clwb.

“The kindness shown by others when I delivered packs and projects, has kept me going through all of this,” added Naz.

 “Creating art has helped me keep focused during such strange times and for me, it is a form of escape. It enables me to reflect and have moments of calm, I can gather my thoughts. Just like daydreaming, it transports me somewhere else into an imaginary world full of colour and endless possibilities.

“Using art to express yourself can be very empowering, whatever thoughts you’re having good or bad, you can simply release them on paper in any way you wish.

“These online workshops are accessible by all and can help with stress, anxiety, depression and isolation amongst many other things.

“Art has helped me personally with my mental health and enabled me to communicate in alternative way. Especially when growing up, it gave me an outlet and built my self-confidence and made me believe in myself.

“I was such a shy child and I really struggled with things going on. Art and music were a great way to connect with others and build friendships. I think this has always stuck with me and I really value the impact of the arts.

“My mum was always a creative person and I have her old sketchbooks from when she was younger. She always took my family out to exhibitions and created the best fancy dress outfits when we were little. I was always happy when I was making art with her and others.

“There was an English teacher, Miss Hollister who really stood out for me as he would bring books to life. I hoped that one day if I became a teacher, I would want to help others the same way that she helped me. I have been very fortunate in being able to do just that.

“People inspire me and so do their stories, hopefully someone will read this and get inspired by my story too, which is why it is important to stay in contact with one another during this time. I have also been touched by people’s kindness during lockdown – there has been so much community spirit shown and it has been wonderful to see.

“Feedback from everyone involved has been really positive, especially with grandparents and their grandchildren, as it’s a fantastic way for a family to connect whilst apart. Art Clwb has been a great way to support families and teachers with workshops and ideas for children at home, especially now that children are being home-schooled.

“I am so thankful to everyone who has shared their time, kindness, thoughts, promoted the workshops and got involved. It really has meant so much.

“Moving forward I am hoping to develop the next part of the project ‘Connections’ and build on what has been created and learnt from ‘Lost Connections’. I will also be making more creative packs for families in need within the community, as well as new Art Clwb workshops online with different art groups.”

If you would like to find out more and get involved, visit and

Like and subscribe to Ziba Creative UK on YouTube to be notified of the latest creative workshops. Visit 

Follow and like Art Clwb on Facebook and @art_clwb on Instagram too for creative giveaways launching soon!

‘Lost Connections’ is funded by the Arts Council of Wales Stabilisation fund and supported by community partners, Eyst, Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, The Riverfront and Fusion. Thanks to Fusion #CyfunoFusion, Welsh Ice, and The Riverfront for Art Clwb support.