Dhamyaa – 'Happy-Excited-Sad-Scared' by Julia Hall 2024

(Dhamyaa, Iraq – 120 x 80cm)
Dhamyaa arrived in March 2017. She had already left Iraq and spent two years living in Turkey, from where she applied for asylum. She thought the man from the UN was joking when he told her she had been accepted by the UK, it had been her dream to visit London since she was a child. With her three children she arrived on a flight, and was helped with housing, appointments and finding schools. Dhamyaa has a Masters in Arabic, is a qualified history teacher and was in charge of 24 schools in Iraq, but couldn’t speak any English when she arrived. She told me: “Inside I had many things to say, but I felt I couldn’t speak because I didn’t have the language. It was a big challenge and made me very sad”. She didn’t think people in the UK would like Muslims, or be very welcoming, but she hasn’t experienced any racism and both her landlady and neighbour were very wonderful.

Her emotions on arrival were happy, excited, sad and scared, but she felt safe for herself and her family. She doesn’t worry about her children growing up to be English. They celebrate Christmas and Easter, accept everyone and want to understand other cultures. Dhamyaa has been helped by many people of different backgrounds and religions. She feels part of three cultures – Iraq, Turkey and the UK.

With her previous CV counting for nothing in this country, Dhamyaa became a tour guide in the Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums in Oxford, through the Multaka project. She also works as a teaching assistant in schools, while trying to improve her English.  Her hobby as a child was making dresses for her dolls, but her parents didn’t see any future in Iraq for artists or designers. She feels that these skills are more admired in the UK, so she started making traditional Iraqi dresses and displaying them at fashion shows she organises. When she is creating things, she feels very happy, and would like to set up a dress making business. This dress was made by Dhamyaa, and the face on the front was painted by her daughter.

The advice she would give to women arriving here is: Don’t stay at home and close the door. Go and get a job, volunteer, improve your language. Be curious and open minded.

SKU JU/HA006 Artist

Additional information

Dimensions 120 × 80 cm


1 in stock

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