David Trigg speaks to Birmingham-based textile artist Farwa Moledina about her exhibition Women of Paradise at Ikon Gallery.
Raised in Dubai in a Muslim family, Farwa moved to the UK in 2010, where she studied at Birmingham School of Art. Since graduating in 2018, she has been making textile-based works, which, through the use of pattern and Islamic design principles, address themes of feminism and faith, and scrutinise the portrayal of Muslim women in the canon of western art. Her work aims to stimulate a more nuanced debate regarding female Muslim identity and the way in which Muslim women are viewed.
Farwa’s new textile work, Women of Paradise, is a response to the singular religious narratives that dominate western museums and galleries. It is a study of the four women promised paradise Islamic tradition: Aasiyah, the adoptive mother of Moses; Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad and Fatimah their daughter, and Maryam the mother of Isa, otherwise known as Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Conscious that galleries and museums rarely contain depictions of Mary outside of the Christian imagination, Farwa provides a different perspective on this figure, who is of important religious and cultural significance in Islamic countries.
In addition to her exhibition at Ikon Gallery, she discusses two earlier works: Thawra (2020), which focuses on revolutionary Muslim women and the erasure they have faced throughout history; and By Your Coming We Are Healed (2020), a work made during the first national Covid lockdown that focusses on Ramadan in the time of the pandemic.
Artworks discussed in this episode can be viewed online via Farwa’s website: www.farwamoledina.com and on Instagram @farwamoledina @exhibitingfaith
Learn more about Women of Paradise: https://www.ikon-gallery.org/exhibition/women-of-paradise