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Mrs Jahangeer

Mrs Jahangeer by Emily Johns

Drawing Paradise on the ‘Axis of Evil’

Local artist, peace campaigner and activist, Emily Johns, travelled to Iran in 2006 and again this February on an international peacemaking delegation. The resulting artwork is being exhibited at the Hastings Arts Forum and offers personal insights into life in Iran, past and present. HOT’s Zelly Restorick went along to take a look.

Tutu cutting

Tutu cutting

Emily is an artist who creates heartfelt work, whatever the subject matter. In this exhibition, her prints cover the history of British/Iranian relations over the last century – including the topics of tobacco, tutus, coups and chemical weapons. The text by the side of each print offers insight into Iranian life, putting each creation into context and adding a deeper significance.

The Blind Censor

The Blind Censor by Emily Johns

Accompanying the exhibition are a series of companion events opening our eyes and ears to the lives of Iranian people, including a film to be shown this Thursday at the Arts Forum by the St Leonards Film Society. Interestingly, the text by the side of one of Emily’s prints, The Blind Censor, tells us about the Iranian film industry:

In ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir of Books’, Azar wries that until 1994, the chief film censor in Iran was a blind cleric. He required assistants to describe to him the contents of the films he was examining. Since the 1979 Revolution, Iran has had a world famous film industry, producing poetic and striking films working within – and sometimes outside – the censorship system.

One of the events accompanying the exhibition is a Persian / Iranian poetry evening. Taking a look at the website for this exhibition, I found this extract from a poem by Saadi, circa 1200 – 1291.

The human race is a single being
Created from one jewel
If one member is struck
All must feel the blow
Only someone who cares for the pain of others
Can truly be called human.

This seems particularly relevant when one considers the suffering, pain and horrors of war and what some human beings can inflict on others of the species, when they see them as enemies to be destroyed rather a fellow member of the same race. Wars that are being fought and engaged in at this very minute.

‘The Axis of Evil’ was referred to by ex President George Bush in his 2002 State of the Union Address, where he spoke of the nations he believed to be supporting terrorists – Iran, Iraq and North Korea. This list was later extended by the then Under Secretary of State, John R Bolton to include Cuba, Libya and Syria and further extended in 2005 by incoming Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice, adding Belaruz, Burma and Zimbabwe.

Accompanying events at The Hastings Arts Forum:

Thursday 11 July 11 am : Artist’s talk

Thursday 11 July 7.30pm : Iranian film hosted by St Leonards Film Society

Saturday 13 July 12:00am – 2:00pm : Printmaking and stories for children age 8-12yrs

Sunday 14 July 2:30pm : Iranian film and discussion hosted by St Leonards Film Society

Tuesday 16 July 7:00pm – 9:00pm : “The Rose and the Nightingale”, a Persian Divan with divine refreshments. Bring Persian poetry to share. Donations welcome.

Exhibition at the Hastings Arts Forum till 17 July 2013

36 Marina, St Leonards on Sea, TN38 0BU

More information about Drawing Paradise on the Axis of Evil here.

Emily Johns website here.


Posted 21:40 Tuesday, Jul 9, 2013 In: Visual Arts

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