I finally finished the floor design , mapping and packing up of all 900 gifts last night at midnight…it took a lot longer and a lot more excruciating patience than i had planned for… i am too exhausted to write anything coherent but wanted to post up these images from my phone as i liked the pattern the number made on the floor…and it gives a sense of the scale of the final main piece..

now for a couple of days revelling the resting before the final push to make everything ready for the 5th, when the work gets collected from my studio.

happy new year etc


It’s been an extraordinary month in terms of physical work in the studio on the gifts. I now have all 999 objects, and some of the most moving came in the final few weeks …I made a decision a while ago not to disclose much about the objects submitted in any detail ,as it feels like the gallery space will be the legitimate place for proper disclosure, but the poetic and moving nature of some of the final items make it hard for me to do this…so I may post up something soon with a few pointers as to the emotional scope of some of the items given.

The objects are now all laid out on a paper grid on the studio floor. (see image) The museum apprentices, Rosie and Casey, have been logging all the cards and we have been trying to locate stray numbers with displaced objects for the last few weeks. I became totally obsessed with getting the database of objects to numbers accurate, it felt like an injustice to mismatch anything as inevitable a few things had lost labels etc. But this has eaten up a lot of time and I will be spending most of this week finalising the design on the floor grid done by raphaell, then turning the grid into a map for the installing process, with outlines on objects and their numbers and position marked out carefully. Then into 50 bags, one for each line , ready for collection on January 5th when they go into a special museum deep -freeze in Birmingham for a week, to kill off any bugs and make them eligible for exhibition.

It feels like a lot of this whole year has been taken up with not just the physical but the emotional processes surrounding this project,.others and my own. I first had the seed idea for this 7 years ago. Today is the 5th anniversary of the death of my mother in the Asian tsunami and it’s the only day in a long time when I have felt completely unable to tap into the creative power of what came from living through that experience and ride its energy. I realise that it’s the art have made from it that has kept me in balance. Today I decided to just lie low –no big rituals or hosting like I have done in the past to mark the event. And yet I feel totally vulnerable and unable to function, very much ‘in my child’ (and unwilling to mother my own children today with any degree of effectiveness..). I guess this blog entry is the most creative thing I will do today (I wrote from my bed) and that, in fact, it’s important to fall apart occasionally, with no idea of how to manage or channel what is arising. To feel the deep sadness, the intense flashes of grief and anger, then let go as much as is possible until calm seas return.


Thoughts arising …

..that came out of the launch evening of the shape of things last month and I have been so busy making that I haven’t had the chance to write them down since.

A question asked at the launch by Raimi Gdamosi, which I am grateful for as it brought up a lot for me …something like- ‘in the face of the diverse practices of the artists on the panel (ie the 8 Shape..artists), are Non-European makers always going to be determined by their ostensible Otherness?’

I have a discomfort around the focus on Otherness. I fear it can be limiting in its entrenchment in a definition of Self within a particular cultural terrain. I understand that it has been and continues to be useful, essential even, in the face of erasure, where there is a question of survival of one’s culture in the balance through migration, displacement etc. But I don’t come from that kind of background, I only experienced the Iranian Revolution second-hand, through the lives of our relatives who fled and came to live with us as I was growing up in suburban Tunbridge Wells.. When I visited Iran in 1992 and 1998 I was warmly welcomed like a guest, a novelty, the beloved daughter of my now legendary mother.

When I state I am a British –Iranian artist, I am acknowledging my sources, not underlining my otherness.

Otherness…in contrast to what ? to what has been a white mainstream, but is no longer, because it is all being beautifully mixed up…???.I am second generation, hybrid, mongrel….. so not Iranian enough to be an Iranian artist and invited to that party, but somewhere in between, enjoying the new colours I can weave on a collective cloth that is so interwoven with ‘other’ influences it is impossible to see where one thread finishes and another begins. And so, the emphasis on otherness, on separateness, is for me not always a concern. Finding the universal through the personal is what I am seeking. Despite this I am aware that I use an approach in my work that draws very closely on my Iranian heritage – the metaphor of textile and its aesthetic, the desire to mourn and self-disclose on a mass scale and connect with masses of people I may never meet (a tradition maintained these days by Iranian bloggers, who have the added element of risk and survival to contend with). The use of poetic language, of communal rituals that are intended to create connection and self-reflection…

So it seems right to show that these are rooted in someplace other than the South East of England. And for that reason I embrace the chance to highlight this through the shape of things. And I truly hope that The Gifts will transcend the biographical material it is rooted in and strike a universal note to those who come …