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A New Light In My Life

I come from a religious and very traditional family. For boys, it’s always much easier than girls, girls are far more under control and restricted everywhere, if you're a boy you can go and travel everywhere you want, you can have a girlfriend, you can stay up late but if you're a girl it's never an option. Ever since I was a child my mother was telling me about Islam and how girls are supposed to behave. It was always a question for me why woman should be restricted and ask for permissions from their husband? It's appalling, even the wages for women is half which is just not fair. So, that was when I started painting, it was a way of expressing myself and take away that suffering, to release suffering and paint for myself.


I wanted to ask the world- why does discrimination based on gender exist? Most suffering for Iranian women is simply because they are female. They are being looked upon for their gender as ‘being a woman’ rather than being human, this is the difficulty for Iranian woman, unfortunately they’re all ruled by Islamic laws and religion. It's quite strange how this religion is tied up with the culture and traditions in Iranian culture. I always suffer with this, that even if I call myself Muslim why this religion should give such suffering to woman because of their gender.


My mother never could explain to me and come up with a satisfactory answer to why things are the way they are, she just said ‘it’s the rule of religion and we should follow it’. So, painting was that space where I could talk and I was allowed to talk about things that I wanted to say.


As an Architect, I had always been dealing with art, it was always around me. I was an artist in High School but later I went to University. This discrimination against women, I felt more strong while at University.


I was part of a campaign when I was at University that was about promoting equality for women but because of that I was asked to leave for a couple of weeks, but the project continued. When I came here I realised a couple of my friends had been arrested due to their activities. My family had received a letter regarding a court order against me and that was the reason I couldn’t go back to Iran. So, I ended up staying here but I had nothing to start my life with.


I was in a desperate situation, I was homeless and I was referred to Crisis by an organisation called Sanctuary. I needed help with some paperwork, but I was told there is a space for art and craft if I’m interested to come and join.


I found this was an amazing place where nobody would disturb me and I had access to everything I needed and it was wonderful. I found it amazing that there was this space I could come, I would keep coming for a year and a half, I loved it. In the Art Room, I could do things I like to do and it was free, free and accessible. It made my day worthwhile, I would wake up in the morning with a good reason, hope and excitement, that I could go there, do my work, my painting. It brought a new light in my life.


So after a while I got to know the people, they were kind with me and I guess I got good feedback from them. After a while they said they were going to do an exhibition and invited me to be a part of it. I felt very happy about it.


I’ve done nearly twenty pieces within this year and a half and they all been done in the Crisis Art Room. We chose a couple of them, a couple of them very old, a couple of them new and they felt that would be good idea to have them for exhibition.


When I came here I was in a very new space, I was almost like a traveller with no plan for the future but the space helped me to find my feet on the ground and kind of establish myself.


It probably was one of the best days of my life, when the painting that I drew just for myself for my own feelings, I realised it talked to other people, and other people understood it and that was one of the best moments.


I'm still excited, I’m full of joy for having my own exhibition for very first time, and I’m sure it would help me to go on enjoying it and I want to carry on doing my art.


When I came, my language wasn’t that good. I was sitting in the corner and listening to my music and doing my paintings. I think it's that I haven’t been ignored and they kept supporting me through the process that my confidence has grown.


I was so broken when came from Iran, very broken and depressed. This project really helped me to get on my feet and find myself. Apart from being supportive in my art, staff here have also been looking after my emotions, how I feel and I had emotional support from them. Crisis even helped me to rent a place which was really amazing thing for me. Finding a new place was the biggest problem I had and that was solved so they help me just, you know, to start my life again. I look back to two years ago and if I didn’t have the support from Crisis I don’t know what would have happened to me.


I felt very supported in the project by both Sonia and Katie. I felt a very strong connection with them and I hope to stay in touch with them for future work.


I had this dream that I can sit in safety, but also come forward and I can do my own art work and that was always my dream, and I feel like now, I am going towards it.

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