Maryam Hashemi

- Persian Weekly's Exclusive interview

  Persian Weekly's exclusive interview with 

Maryam Hashemi the Iranian Artist based in London 

Masks & Veils

By : Honey Fereydoun Pour 

Translation to English by Maryam Hashemi

Maryam Hashemi is an Iranian artist based in London.Her work is a reflection of her thoughts ,inspired by her subconscious mind and influenced by her femininity and personal point of view. In recent year Maryam have been creating valuable works of art. 

Her style of work wavers between " Magical Realism " and "Surrealism" and women are her main subjects but recently she has been focusing on "Self portraits".

Her watercolor and pencils works at the start of her career attracted a lot of attention but later on she also started using using acrylic on canvas.

Maryam studied " Graphic Design " at "Azaad university of Art & Architecture" in Tehran (1997-2002), while studying she had her first solo exhibition in 2001 in Tehran followed by other group and solo shows.She moved to London from 2002 and started exploring other fields such as theatre and performance for a few years but her focus went back to painting.She have been actively exhibiting in solo and group shows in London and other cities in England such as Edinburgh ( Edinburgh Iranian Festival) ,other European cities and The USA.

I personally visited her at the her studio for this interview.

-We know that you started drawing since you were very young and during the Iran and Iraq war, how much do you think this experience has shaped you as an artist?

Maryam: It has definitely been very effective.My art is based in my personality which is the result of all my experiences specially my experiences as a child which means the wartime has shaped me in a way. It may not be always very clear in my work but for example queue was one of those things that one could see in some of my paintings and I was very aware that it connected to the days during the war that we had to queue for buying absolutely everything ,another element is sand bags which could be seen in some of my works which is a reminder of the trenches,even the black veiled women that can be seen in so many of my paintings are connected to the street demonstrations that I remember from those days. Another thing that stayed with me since then is the fear of destruction which in a way has given my work a colourful darkness.Along the darkness of fear there is also colour which I believe it connects my time in our basement shelter .Those days people spent the night or sometime most of their times in their basements which I found ours it to be really coasy. There was a certain bond and connection between people in those days which I loved so much.

- Did you ever experience any problem exhibiting in 

Iran as a woman or because women were your subject matter ?

Maryam: I exhibited during the time that it was much easier for artists to show was during president Khatami and it was up to the galleries to decide if the works were suitable for public display so I think I was very lucky that I didn't have any issue exhibting my work.

- When you came to the UK after a short period of activity as a painter you decided to work in theatre and perfomence for a while and then you returned to painting again.Did this break add anything to your experience?


Maryam: after moving to London my work changed and moved to a new direction. The"Veils" really intersted which I had interst in it already but after being here I wanted to explore it further but after a while I got tired of working on the same theme and I felt what ever I did was a repeat of the previous work so I felt it's best if I separate myself from painting for a period of time and try something new. I always loved films and theatre and I had friends that worked in this field so I had the opportunity to gains some experience in this field which was very intersting and I could explore different sides of myself , I was always known as a painter to everyone and myself so I was very curious to know what else I'm capable of .The theatre and performance experience helped me to know myself better and added another layer to my work.

I think the main reason for the busy atmosphere in my works is that I want to show and explore different sides of myself ,I can see my childhood interior environment in most of my works ,I have the need to constantly portray the details of my environment .I went through a period of self exploration which happened for many reasons,I think age was one the main factors also being in a different environment helped me to break away from the mold that was placed on me for a long time .


- can you tell me about the date ,place and themes of your recent exhibtons ?


Maryam: My themes have always been changing but in recent years the themes are more connected to one another and there is more of a flow between them.for example my first exhibition in London I focused on veils which this element still remains in my works.My most recent exhibition was part of "Persian Art Market "in Ejsden ,Holland in "The Family Museum ".They were displaying veriaty of visual art and sculpture by Iranians from all over the world and it was the second year of this event.

Before this I had a short video in "Edinburg Iranian Festival "in Feb 2015 ,it was the first time I was showing video in show which was very exciting and I was one of 40 artists from around the world that were selected for the festival ,the group exhibition before that in Sept 2014 was in" Westminster Library" in central London with two other Iranain painters based in UK : Roya Khalili & Feri Kiasati.

Apart from exhibiting I also perfom and collaborate with other artists, my recent collaboration was during our open studios in " Hackney Wicked " festival which i collaborated with a friend on a live performance which is also going to be a film .


- As most of your works are about women in different Islamic covers ,where do you think is the place of Hejab in your work?Is representing the cover that was forced on you or does it have another artistic reasons?


Maryam: This is a question that I have also asked myself.Hejab has always been intersting for me as a visual form and also a garment and have always made me think. This is an element that have been part of our culture for a long period of time and in a country like Iran it's an important factor in the everyday life which requires time and attention .It is also very nostalgic for me and very much part of me and that is why is appears in my work.

There is also the psychological symbolism side of Hejab which could refer to desire to conceal or hide something for different reasons .This act of hiding could be because of shame or fear of judgement which I always had it in me and I'm very aware it now and my use of this element have become a lot less dominant .

In my recent works I have been working towards removing layers and revealing my true self .

- Could you tell me about your future events and also how people can follow your work?

Maryam: what I have confirmed for now is exhibiting in Brunai Gallery in "SOAS" from 14-16 August as part of a women conference also will be exhibiting in "Arts Depot" in September as part of "The British Iranian Theatre Festival "which is organised by "Saamhouse Theatre Group".

I haven't got fixed dates and details for the events after that yet but I always update my pages in social media and websites.

- Dear Maryam thank you for giving me your time do you have anything to add?

Maryam: I like to also thank you for this opportunity .