I have been quite silent on my blogs over the last few weeks as all my free time has been spent glued to twitter, Youtube and various news websites watching and feeling the events in Iran unfold, with a mixture of disbelief, amazement, horror and utter excitement to see a shift after so many years of repression. This was the time my mother was working towards and waiting for and I feel her spirit very closely observing in delight as shifts take place within the mindset and among the crowds on the streets of Iranian cities that will not be lost despite the constant brutal attempts to silence the growing calls for freedom and self-expression.
As someone who is connected to Iran mainly through my mother and all she tried to transmit to me about the political landscape there, often with such great passion and rage (at the mullahs) that she almost burst out of her body, I look now at how I can connect to this through this project and honour her at the same time.
Gifts 2 –6, then, are personal objects of my mothers and I am wrapping them in green, to connect with the Sea of Green in Iran, initially the Islamic colour denoting allegiance to the opposition candidate Mousavi, now broadening out into the colour of hope, freedom and resistance to tyranny.
I was at the press launch of the Shape of things the other week, it was a small but satisfying affair as there was a tube strike that day and getting to Flow Gallery was in itself an act of great achievement. It was the first time I had been to flow (who are a partner in The Shape of Things programme, with an exhibition planned for next autumn of all 8 artists work).
I was asked to speak briefly along with Rosa, Tasmin and Chien about what being part of this programme means to me and my practice. In having to focus on this I realised how much of the content and form of my work over the last ten years has been directly influenced and created by my Iranian heritage : the use of textile media, the desire and need to communicate and engage with large numbers of people, the aesthetics of the work itself and the core use of poetry to both inspire and interpret the work. It seems very fitting that I am working on a piece called ‘The Gifts’, that in itself will be a kind of acknowledgement of my heritage through my mother.
Here is one of the most resonant and powerful forms of expression to come out of Iran in recent weeks in response to the events that have been going on:
A culture that uses poetry in this way to channel its creative self even in the darkest of times is a culture that will only grow stronger through this most bloody and heart-achingly challenging time..