I'm gonna call next year's exhibition 'She Did It Anyway'.
One of our new students, Lorina however, revealed herself to be a natural artist who had, it seemed, been waiting her whole for this opportunity to shine. Every time I turn around she's produced something else!
Feven took a bit of work, but the second time she sat down at her 'Portrait in Habesha' pieces, and with a little pushing to talk about articles and styles of her background such as the hairstyle and the cross she wears, she was soon quite confident about it.
Saniya, one of the trainee-teachers spent her first day with us painting with me. I saved her from the mistake of simply producing an 'international women's day' sign by asking her questions like: what is important to you? What do you want? What are the barriers to this? Who inspires you? And she told me how she admires her mother for flouting traditional women's roles to instead pursue education, travel and a life of her own. We talked about symbolism and what things she associates with her mother such as elephants and came up with a concept for Saniya's first ever painting, which has turned out pretty damn good...
I meanwhile created two pieces specifically for the exhibition, 'Her Bed Of Thorns' and 'Consent Through...' the latter being a set of collage posters about abuse and rape culture. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put them in at first- everyone said they liked them but I had a feeling more for the colour and style rather than the content itself. I had rushed them and thought the use of eyes was a bit obvious, but everyone said they should be included, so up they went.
On the opening day, Negat, Hannah, Amelia and Jimmy all helped in the installation and preparing the room to receive visitors. My old friend Afshan D'Souza Lodhi popped over from opposite adjacent to perform poetry for us and I awarded Lorina with chocolate for all her efforts and amazing work through these last few weeks.
I was disheartened that a bunch of the women who took part couldn't come along to see the exhibition. Saniya, Ruba, Farheen, Erbka, Feven and Lorina of course were able to come and see, but we missed Ingrid, Lucia, Fernanda, Jhana and Maria-Jose.
I was pleasantly surprised however when the boys all showed up; Abdaly, Abdullah (al-Turk), Abdullah (al-Sudan) and Sawad all attended in support. The previous night I was told they were all working, so it was a very nice surprise and they made the event a lot of fun by dancing around with us.
The exhibition has run for three days this week. The location wasn't ideal in the furthest corner of the Methodist Central Hall, but the room was a good room for exhibiting and made it look really nice. It was really just the room that we usually use for a classroom but with the tables taken out.
I wasn't expecting a huge attendance but I was surprised at how many showed up -approximately 17 per day over three days which is pretty good considering the location of course. But it mostly our friends and other students/ staff who came, but I don't see that as a problem.