I am an artist from Slemani, Iraq with a career background in, teaching, social work, and academia. I have more than 20 years of work experience with local charities, NGOs and international organisations supporting asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced people and immigrants in Northern Iraq, Denmark, and the UK.
Alongside my academic involvement at the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol, I also participated with art in a two-year project entitled, “Gender-based Violence and Displacement” 2016-2018, funded by Arts Council England. The research was an international participatory project in collaboration between the University of Bristol, UK and Slemani University in the Kurdish Regional Government, Iraq. I contributed to the research finings as well as exhibiting my art in the final research dissemination conference in November 2018. Since then, I have participated in exhibitions with BRAC in the annual Refugee Week Festival and other Art Trails in Bristol.
I have been a member and contributor of the Brush&Bow collective since 2020; a platform for creative journalism and community engagement to highlight individual voices within wider socio-political issues.
About the project:
This year’s project helped us to revisit and re-examine our senses of belongings and express them through our creativity. During these uncertain and difficult times of COVID, our online and then offline collaborations have made it possible to be connected, to share and exchange ideas and concepts despite the restrictions of the lockdown.
I experience belonging as something multifaceted, fluid, and dynamic in accordance with the changes and places we encounter in our life’s journeys. However, at a deeper level, there are inevitably some deep-rooted areas where I always feel I belong to; my family, my heritages, my homeland Kurdistan, and Mesopotamia.
Belonging is about connection. To be connected to my surroundings as well as environments far beyond; with recognition, engagement, and curiosity.
In the context that “we” are social animals, belonging gives meaning to our lives. A two-way feeling that I belong to the wider world and equally the wider world belongs to me. Belonging has no time or limitations. It can be both memories and/or momentum experiences of enjoying the simplest things in life such as watching birds, observing my seedlings’ germination, or drinking tea in traditional tea-glasses infused with cardamom with my family or friends. To being involved in much bigger questions such as gender, culture and society, refugees and migration, the human face of the global economics, and how we consciously or unconsciously create and retell our own and others’ histories. Belonging with its many altitudes and horizons, we feel through our senses, commemorations, ideas, and imaginations. The first time I saw a murmuration of starlings in the UK, gave me a strange feeling of belonging. It took me all the way back to my childhood home in Kurdistan.