I am in the ‘full-blooded’ stage of the project. Was in Bristol last week, a lot happened – major installation design decisions, planning for the catalogue. presentations to teachers, gifting sessions at the Museum with a group of students doing the Creative Media Diploma at Backwell School.

I stayed at my sister’s house in Backwell, and with her and my brother-in-law Mark’s help (he is the school connection as he works as a lead practitioner in the CMD for the region) , we worked out how to translate my colour palette for the 900 objects in the main piece into actual number of objects per colour and metres of fabric required. I had been trying to do this for a while without much success, so when we came up with the final numbers I was in sweet shock for a while as I saw that every number relating to every single colour is divisible by 9 again! 9 seems to have become a living entity and be following me around, toying with my head..

Mark unearthed around 30 objects for the project to wrap–most of them childrens toys .My nieces were there, deconstructing their early childhoods as they debated and figured out the detail of each item’s history…

I was due to give what I had been told by the museum was only a presentation to Mark’s school group the next day . However when I got to my sisters house I realised that there had been a communication blip and the students were bringing objects to wrap the next morning..I, however I hadn’t brought any materials. I perversely like this kind of situation. We hatched a plan and got the students involved in sourcing fabrics, cutting, stripping and logging as well as wrapping and experiencing the adrenalin rush of being in production of a live artwork.

Mark has since set up a lot more sessions with different school groups and I now know what I need to do to be prepared. I enjoyed sharing my work and approach with them, I have started to accept that my self-criticism that I talk too quickly and jam too much in is in fact exaggerated in my head and just part of my style and the more I accept that the more I will slow down anyway.

Example of objects given so far…coming in thick and fast:

A bunch of keys to a recently repossessed house.

A child’s toothbrush

A photo of an ex-lover

A gold watch strap of a recently deceased partner

A ninetndo wii (broken)

A screenplay

A jar of gold size with gilder’s tip and gold leaf.

Three small knitted dolls, each symblising a lost child through miscarriage

A photo taken by my mother of a group of her Iranian friends, sent to me by one of them

An ipod mini

A large seed pod

A jar of shells and stones, collected over 30 years ago by parents long departed.


On friday Julia Carver, the curator of the project came for a studio visit. I was so glad that Raphaella and I had hung the objects up last week as she got a proper sense of how its going to work and look which photos cant really convey. There was a lot to discuss – the installation itself, the exhibition guide, presentation next week, the launch, PR for the object gathering etc. It’s like unravelling a ball of wool and it just keeps getting longer…I realise this is the first public project i have worked on where I have a sustained and close relationship with a curator, and I am really enjoying the interchange and support, we are a good match.

It was also good to be able to show her my parallel new work – from The Gifts of the Departed series – that is very much fed by and feeds into this project. I have just finished the ‘Mother Tongue’ piece and it’s the completion of a two year on-and-off process.I basically wrapped three of my mother’s rice cookers in wool and silk, then bound them in black binding and wrote three versions of the same song -based on a sufi poem by Rumi- on them, ‘Come , Come , My Beloved’ by Bijan Bijani. It was the song that was playing when i was in labour with Delia, my first child and I remember my mother sat there translating it to me, what an amazing moment of closeness it was – almost other- wordly.

The largest cooker is written on in farsi, the medium size one in romanised farsi and the third, smallest one, in the english translation. Julia called it the ‘prologue’ to The Gifts and i see what she means, in that the themes it draws on – core relationship through the female ancestral line from my mother to my daughter through me, the transmission and gradual loss of language, the importance of food as a form of love etc.

It felt very significant for me to finally finish it and to say goodbye to those objects and see that they can work in a totally transformed context but still speak of the work they once knew. I hope this will apply to the Gifts, which seems to be revealing new objects and their stories to me every day.


Objects have begun to slowly flow in, i am receiving 1-2 a day since i sent out an initial email to friends and family in the first instance last week. Some are very moving ,i will start listing examples soon .. It’s like an alternative christmas, and some (local) friends / Givers have come to the studio and wrapped their object themselves. It seems to have the same cathartic effect on them as it does on me which is reassuring as it has felt like such a personal process so far , even though it is an age -old ritual i am tapping into here.

The museum are sending out a PR this week and it will start to escalate, i hope. Only real obstacle is the postal strike…! My brother pointed out to me that i have set up a project where certain elements (like the sourcing of the main material of the work) are beyond my control, and that must be a challenge i desired. He is right, it’s a step further than i have been before and it keeps the thrilling if terrifying element of uncertainty alive -will i get enough response to my call out for objects etc… The larger, deeper part of me trusts i will, postal strike or not , but my controlling side is somewhat on edge.

Raphaella helped me hang up 99 objects in a spiral to see how its going to work with the smaller of the two pieces, ie, my own objects. it’s looking good, though its going to be tricky to photograph since there is so much background visual noise and i am reluctant to publish images of it here as yet. It’s wonderful to finally see objects hanging in the air, as I had imagined them, and with only 99 it already feels like a powerful space is being created. I now have the dimensions needed to give the designers something to work with for the first hanging structure.

Which brings me to the number 9. the choice of 999 was an intuitive thing, I knew 6 years ago that was the number I would use if I ever managed to do this project. I am now discovering the beauty of the number 9 and how it always returns to itself , (ie 9+9+9 = 27, 2+7=9). Also, if you

you multiply anything by 9, the same thing happens, ie 9 x8 = 72, 7+2 =9 and 5 x9=45, 4+5 = 9 etc

And even in the dimensions of the spiral we made, bizarrely (and without calculation, just by eye) ;

144 cm wide, 1+ 4+ 4 = 9

261 cm high, 2+6+1 = 9

162 deep, 1+6+2= 9

Finally, here is the invite to contribute an object, either from my website or the Bristol Museum site (you have to scroll to the bottom to download the form on that one)….please spread the word…