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from : Yemen

personal object : a jar of perfume and a small rolling pin

In Aden, Yemeni women are known for their love of buying home-made perfume cream. Each woman who makes it has a secret recipe. It is called Al’Akh Dharyan. It is used by smoothing a little in the hair and around the back of the ears so that when you greet/hug other female guests, as happens in traditional Arabic culture, you smell nice.

In 1971 my mother, Funoon (meaning ’art’), and I travelled from our village in the North of Yemen to Aden so we could be close to the British Embassy, in order that my father could begin his application for us to join him in Sheffield. I was 4 years old at the time. My mother and I began to adopt Adeni clothing, food and their amazing perfumes. We were in Aden for 8 months and just before we left, Mum ordered a large jar of the home-made perfume cream, as she had been told she would not be able to get any in England.

As a child, I used to go into my mother’s closet and put on some perfume whenever we were getting ready to visit other families. I now have granddaughters and about three or four times a year, on special occasions, I will dab a little of this in their hair.

My mother was a great cook and also made traditional Yemeni pastry. My daughter, Ibtisam (meaning ‘smile’) always wanted to help. In 1993, when she was 4 years old, I bought her a rolling pin. In 2015, I took the rolling pin out of my closet and gave it to my granddaughter, Amani (meaning ‘aspirations’) to made traditional khubz with me.

My father passed away 28 January, 1985. My mother passed away 17 February, 2007.

chosen artwork : Bursting Shell    Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, 1915

This painting is like my working life, in which I assist my daughter with her event co-ordinating business. The artist depicts the shell and the explosion – and we spend many hours in our workroom unit, planning and preparing for an event, then - WOW! - comes the explosion on the day.


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 Click here to see Faiza's chosen artwork at the Tate