Shirin, K, Yamolky
I was born and raised in Sulaymaniyah a Kurdish city North of Iraq. I am a self taught artist and began my art journey at the age of five. I was never outspoken and very shy when I was young.
That’s when art became my oasis as a little girl.
Growing up in North of Iraq, a war torn country, art was my therapy and escape from the real world we lived in outside my childhood home.
I remember vividly, the many nights we were woken up by the wailing sound of air raid sirens then running downstairs to hide in the basement. Hearing all the bombs, gunshots and screams, non of us were ever able to sleep. It was always very dark with no power. My dad, mum and oldest sisters would light a few candles so we could see each other.
All I ever wanted was paper and a pencil so I could draw and distract my mind from what was going on around us.
My family and I were very lucky to escape and immigrate to Canada in 1995, but a whole new story that my sister Lozanne is writing a book about.
My art inspiration is my sister Askin, she is the reason why I fell in love with Art.
I come from a very large family, I have seven sisters and three brothers. I am the second youngest in my family.
When I was about four years old I remember sitting next to my sister while she was drawing ‘Venus de Milo’ the Ancient Greek statue. I was absolutely amazed by my sister Askin and I always thought she had a 'magic hand' because she is 'left handed'.
I wished that one day I would be able to draw just like my big sister.
One day, something changed, I remember seeing my sister in tears in her school uniform. She had just come home from school and was stood outside the doorway completely devastated, in tears, as she was explaining to my dad that she never wanted to go back to that school ever again.
Since that day my sister stopped sketching and threw away all her sketch books.
I was too young to understand what was going on at the time.
I still think about the day this happened and wish I had kept some of her sketches so everyone could see how my sisters Art had inspired me.
I decided that day, that when I get older, I would be able to draw just like my sister and make her proud that she alone had been my inspiration and hope that one day she might start drawing again.
I was very shy to ask for help so I started to draw cartoons while watching Bugs Bunny, Goofy and Pluto on TV. (I know what youre thinking, yes - we did have TV and cartoons back in Iraq!)
To my surprise I somehow managed to draw them exactly as they looked on TV.
I continued to draw as I grew older but always kept my sketches to my self and only shared them with few of my sisters.
At school, in grade 6, I was punished many times by the art teacher, I remember one time she made me stand in front of the class while she rapped my knuckles with a long wooden cane several times, I went home with swollen hands that made my dad furious. My teacher had found a drawing of Bugs Bunny in the back of my school book that I had drawn, she failed me in art class every year.
Despite this I still continued to draw but only when I was at home.
I started drawing a local Mountain called ‘Peramagroon’ that I could see out of my bedroom window. I remember how I became obsessed with getting all the shapes and shades of this mountain just right that at some point I was able to draw it from memory.
Having no paper, I drew it on my bedroom wall and tried to hide it from my mum and dad!
After the chemical attacks and Kurdish uprisings, our family escaped from North of Iraq, we abandoned everything and miraculously immigrated to Canada in 1995.
In Canada I gradually started to use water colours and acrylic paints, however, I was still very shy to share any of my work with the public.
That changed after I met my forever life partner Paul.
Paul recognized my love of painting and in 2013, bought me a set of oil paints to encourage me and fostered a new confidence and self belief, and since that day oil paints have become my absolute favorite and the medium I prefer to work with.
About 20 years after our family immigrated to Canada I had finally found out the reason why my sister had stopped creating her amazing sketches.
Askin was punished by her teachers throughout her high school years for being 'left handed' and for drawing nude Greek sculptures, these things were demonized in our culture back then, my sister couldn’t tolerate the abuse any longer, that was the day I had seen her crying after school nearly 37 years ago.
It has been about 37 years since I saw my sister sketching. The last sketch I watched her create is imprinted in my mind and that’s where it will forever remain in my memory.
My big sister Askin is the reason I fell in love with Art when I was a little girl.
I wish that she will one day tell her story and pick up her magic pencil and just draw anything.
Dedicated to my big sister - "I love you 'Awasy' see see ."