Created in stages, at different locations, Threads brings together three media: music, storytelling and a mixed media installation in a 20-30 minute film and performance.
The story focuses on different phases of life from birth to adulthood and the threads that weave these all together. The story is based on my life, but has the feel of a fairy tale; a fairy tale that Western audiences will feel is familiar but which has its roots in traditional Arab folktales and oral traditions.
This newly conceived piece tells the story of my journey from Sudan to the UK as well as my journey to accepting my deaf identity. Metaphors around environmental issues are woven in: threats to sea creatures, the toxicity of pollution, the healing power of reforestation, and the instant nourishment of clean air. The narrative is not intended as an entirely faithful rendition of my life story, but is inspired by certain elements.
The spoken word performance that featured in the project's development interweaves my story with traditional tales from the Arab world -- stories about threads, strings, fabric, clothes. The parallels between Threads and the environment are many: cutting down trees, sea creatures being knotted up in fishing nets (and the denouements of those that are freed), our own lives and wellness being ‘tied’ together with the fate of the earth, and the collective cause of regeneration.
Visually, the various aspects are represented by a vast collection of Threads composed of a variety of different fabrics of varying textures to represent the smooth and the not-so-easy patches of life’s river of trials and tribulations, as well as the rich diversity of Earth’s seas and landscapes. A central feature to the exhibition is a waterfall of Threads, made up of a vast range of colours, each representing the various elements of entanglement between a life story and the story of Life.
Threads has so far been shown in different stages, including Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021, which was part of a wonderful collaboration with Alia Alzougbi – Storytelling, Writer and Performer; Rihab Azar – Music Adaptation and Composition; and Nadia Nadarajah – Creative Performer. Many others helped to bring the production together and are credited on the Arab Arts Festival page.
Threads also exhibited as part of the Crafts Council exhibition We Gather where I was so happy to have new work shown alongside these brilliant makers: Shaheen Ahmed, Lorna Hamilton-Brown, Francisca Onumah and Onome Otite. The show was curated by Rosie Ross and Griffi and ran from December 2021- February 2022.
Dr Karen Patel commissioned us to create new work in 2020 to 2021 following the publication of her Making Changes in Craft report. The report aimed to raise awareness of inequalities in the contemporary craft economy in the UK and highlight the various challenges faced by women of colour in the sector.
This links to a captioned film of the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival commission