With a practice grounded in Islamic decorative arts and inspired by family, space and the homeland Shireen Taweel creates intricate pierced copper pieces that tread a fine line between jewellery and sculpture. The scale is definitely sculpture but the delicate hand made pieces owe much to her jewellery making background.

Shireen is one of the 8 contributors to Near x Far an exhibition that maps Western Sydney based artists’ experiences of land, culture, home or sacred spaces.  Her work Musallah (or Prayer Room), a suspended band of finely worked copper, responds to her internal experience of sacred space as a Muslim Australian. “It’s connecting the sense of a prayer room and a mosque with living in the diaspora. There's this relationship between the motherland and place of origin within a new home framework, and this idea of settlement, and new communities, and this trans-national experience”.

The nature of Shireen’s work means taking time to not only acknowledge her physical limits but spend time with the materials and let the work develop conceptually.  Musallah took 4 months of painstaking piercing to complete.  “I think the audiences get really excited about the fact that this work is made by hand, and that dedication to time and process, and that love of working. And as an individual, work can manifest from patience and the love of making”.

Another project born of Shireen’s connection to Western Sydney and an interest in creating an exchange with young Muslim women is al jaale’ah (Locally global).  Shireen will share her skills and processes with 3 young female artists in a 4 day workshop aimed at giving them an insight into being an artist and confidence in their voices and work.  “I thought it'd be really cool and a nice, safe space to create, to have that cultural exchange and that creative opportunity to explore ideas in drawing, and responding to our own home environments that have elements of decorative arts, and how we can really push those elements”, she says.  “I've asked the girls participating in the workshops to bring items from their own home, which speak to them, that are decorative. They could be objects that are from textiles, or they could be crockery, it could be even wall pieces. It could really be anything that for them speaks of even their homeland.  I thought it'd be a great opportunity for us to work with items that we see and live with every day and create something new from that”.

Shireen will translate the drawings made in the workshop into pierced sheet copper artworks.  They will be exhibited at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre before the young artists get to take them home, completing a full circle exchange.

Near x Far continues until 17th Sept. Watch this space for the Al Jaale'ah: locally global exhibition.

Near x Far is curated by Brittany D'Chong.  Other artists – Rebecca Gallo, Matthew James, Murasaki Penguin, Grace Toiava, Hannah Toohey, Vaughan and Vincent Wozniak-O’Connor.

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