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…


I went to Bristol last week.I spent the first day at UWE being interviewed by Mathew Partington for the NEVAC archive, alongside Rosa and David Kay. This was great practice is being precise and clear about my ideas in relation to the project.

I had sent rough sketches to the Museum designer Simon last month with some outline ideas about how the objects might be hung so that he and the model maker Nathan could start working out a structure from which they can hang. We met with Nathan who had done some small mock-ups of structures for my objects (the first 99 are going to be my own objects and hung separately, in a kind of spiral, vortex arrangement.). After some discussion we came to finding a way of having very little structure ’in the picture’ so to speak. I want the illusion, as far as possible, of objects flying through space, with very little else – apart from texts – in view. Unless you look up, where there will be a kind of grid structure from which they all hang.

I love this part of the process, where a solution is found for the physical stage of the work to become possible. Nathan suggested I do mock-ups of objects on the ground (and later from a higher place) to see how much room they actually take up as he is concerned it may be smaller than I think. But today I realised through doing this that the variable size of objects makes for a much larger space than we thought when we were adjusting our calculations and pacing it out in the gallery. I am glad as I want it to have a certain presence, and at 7 meters long think this will be in proportion to the gallery space and to Rosa’s work which will take up a lot of the surrounding wall space.

I also had a second workshop session with the People’s Panel this trip, which felt very satisfying somehow. They had brought objects to the first session which I had wrapped and brought some of them back to show them. This time, after explaining where I was with the development of the work, I brought a selection of my own objects and some materials and yarns to wrap. A real gift and exchange session. I shared the stories behind the objects and it felt good and also cathartic to do this, like laying a part of my life to rest, with others witnessing it. Julia and also two other panel members had brought objects so they were wrapped and entered into the collection. It now feels like the gathering has begun. The postcard inviting the public has been printed and I am about to write a more personal letter to go with it to send to my own contacts. We will see what the abundant but unpredictable universe will bring me ….


I’ve been in the studio experimenting with materials, proportions, wrapping objects and generally having a great time…I spent a day out in Brighton at fabric shops sourcing fabrics, inspired by the palette of a Turkish tile i saw at the V+A which depicts the courtyard around the Kaaba in Mecca. I have also been using materials and clothing that I already had, which has a particular resonance for me. I reserve these for wrapping the first 99 objects, which are mine only and will be hung as a separate work, a kind of introduction to the main, public collection in the space. At least, that’s my current thinking and hope. Deep hues of blue, whites, greens and a hint of red, with black at the centre. I have sent some a very vague sketch as a starting point for Simon, the 3D designer to start working with, more like a list of parameters for how the objects may hang in the space.

The Bristol team are working on the postcard invite for the donation campaign and the artwork is looking great, i got a thrill when the pdf plopped into my mailbox. Have also got my PO Box number now so come September,(next week!) we can release our request for objects to the universe and see what it provides..i enjoy being on the brink of such an uncertain but potentially abundant process that i hope will bring me unexpected parcels in the post and at the Museum, ready for transforming. They are also working on setting up some wrapping sessions so that we can generate a large section of the work directly with groups.

My methodology is to establish the proportion of colours based on a ground plan design, then prepare the corresponding number of furoshikis (wrapping cloths) per colour section. I will also work out the number of colours of binding i want to allow, then make available both of these at sessions for people to choose and wrap with. This gives me the security of knowing I have an overall design palette covered and those participating a certain degree of aesthetic choice. I have a day in the studio tomorow, will be wrapping the objects that the People’s Panel gave me and looking at the numbering process for objects..still have to find a beautiful book for it all to be recorded into.


July Visit to Bristol Museum Part 2

I gave my first workshop the next morning at the Museum, to The People’s Panel, a group who represent non-traditional museum audiences and have worked with the museum on interpreting work before, notable the Love exhibition that toured to the National Gallery.

I began by asking them to describe a gift they had been given in the last year and it was interesting to hear how many gifts received were unwanted, but were kept – someone said she felt that she was often given things that the giver liked rather than that corresponded to who she really was. Another spoke about how she hides a gift she really dislikes behind other ornaments in her cabinet , but gets it out when the giver comes round…I wanted us to conjure images of objects in our minds as a group, as this is what the public will be doing as they browse the wrapped gifts and maybe seek to match them with descriptions in the Register Book and also on texts around the space.

I showed them some of my work –from a gift /exchange/ participation angle- in the context of my own life experiences of love, loss and attachment and they seem to be quickly able to access the emotional context of the project. We spent some time handling Kate’s Japanese gifts and I spoke about Furoshiki and also the use of wrapping in Pacific island divinity culture –ie to preserve the power of objects and protect the keepers .

I then unveiled my wrapped Gifts and asked them to guess what they might be, giving them the narrative of each object – this was a moving moment as I spoke about my mother. Finally, almost everyone had brought at least one object to donate –among them a door handle that had once been part of a sculpture, then spent 30 years on a shed door, and now is returning to art – and they filled in the donation form. I realised from this session that there is great value in working directly with more groups not only to contextualise the gifting of the objects, but also to engage in the wrapping process itself as a collective, creative act