Alinah Azadeh reflects on her exhibition at Manchester Craft & Design Centre last year.

Reflecting on grief and the creative process prompted my solo show of sculptures – ‘The Gifts of The Departed’ at Manchester Craft & Design Centre (2013 – 2014), and the showing of ‘The Gifts’ (2010) at Zhejiang Museum in China, I am looking back at formative personal/creative experiences and practice, and forward to how these feed into what I am working towards.

Alinah Azadeh
Alinah Azadeh

It is some years since my mother, Parvin Azadeh Rieu, was swept away in the Asian Tsunami of 2004, an event which not only totally transformed my personal life, but my arts practice too. Why? For whatever combination of reasons, I began to work relationally, that is, I finally broke through the skin of the old paradigm I had been so attached to – that of the solitary artist in the studio – to feeling compelled to relate, connect, ask and answer some of the fundamental questions in life, in the public arena. ‘Why am I here? What is this creative gift for? How do I relate to society and how it is evolving? How do I process grief, especially given the sudden and very public context in which I have lost my mother? How do I relate to others who have a comparable experience, and communicate this to those who don’t, through my work? Why does it feel important to do this?’

This exhibition was a small solo show of some of my on-going collection of sculptures. These began as a creative-making ritual of grief, using some of the key elements of my mother’s kitchen. Wrapping them in cloth and kilim wool and then binding them with texts taken from my blog at the time, which documented some of the almost unbelievable signs, dreams and events around her death. The collection then expanded into using found objects and Sufi texts to create what feels like three dimensional poems. Her death happened 24 days after the birth of my first child (and her first grandchild) Delia – at which she was present. On some level – in my emotional archaeology – these two events felt and still feel closely related.

[Refer to the fuller text of her article on SICA International Celebrate!]