At the end of 2013, my work rapidly became more issue-based and narrative. The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean sparked this. The result was In the Mediterranean: Shipwreck, The smell of tomatoes and Syrian Boy Dreaming. I also started an on-going series of paintings called The Poet in Exile, which explore the universality of a sense of being ‘exiled’. The poets are ones who write in a language I can understand – and the Spanish-language ones I have translated myself. Usually the poems were written when the poet was in exile but I play round with history a bit, so the images of the children in Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Beirut are taken from photos of Syrian refugee children in that city now.
The poets so far are: Mario Benedetti (Uruguay/Cuba); Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Pakistan/Lebanon); Jade Amoli-Jackson (Uganda/UK); Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine/Israel/Lebanon/France); and Ida Vitale (Uruguay/Mexico/USA). Ida Vitale emailed me in response to the picture, saying ‘It is always gratifying to know that ones poems and books have reached some unexpected target – and that they have resulted in a painting!’.
Another series is four paintings illustrating Sufi stories about Light/Lamps (exhibited at ‘Experiments with Light’, May 2016).
The next series will be recent (within living memory) civil wars in Europe – Spain, the Basque Country/Euskadi, Croatia, Ireland – and how people live with the after-math.
My work is usually acrylic with mixed media but I am planning to move more into using words and sound and film. Collaborators wanted!
Please visit my website: www.karima-brooke.co.uk