Here and There

Iraq could easily become a sort of “concept” in our minds, a war-torn wreck that only exists on the news. But Iraq is a real place where people, including women like me with families, are going about their lives right now.

Iraq Iraqi Woman Elizabeth Ashburn Painting Art

I have long been fascinated by the idea that life goes on in other places, even though I’m not there to observe it. I think it began when my childhood best friend and I were told that we would not attend the same schools. We were both very sad at first, and that’s when I regularly began to think about and try to visualise what was happening elsewhere. My friend is at school, doing whatever he is doing, and I am here at the same time.

It was simultaneously comforting and weird. A discovery that time and space exist outside of me and my immediate experience.

So what is happening in places far away from me now? Can I imagine what is happening somewhere very distant, and far outside my experience, like Iraq?

Iraq Iraqui Food Broad Beans Rice Timan Bagalah

The artwork at the top, Iraqi Woman by Elizabeth Ashburn, which I encountered at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery the other day, illustrates both a cultural context and daily reality for a woman in Iraq. I tried to create a small Iraqi experience by making the broad bean dish pictured above (called Timan Bagalah) which is apparently a daily staple in Baghdad and which was very popular in my house. And I made some biscuits based on Hadgi Badah (or Haji Badah), with cardamom and rose to try and capture a pleasant side of Iraq; these were devoured by my sweet-loving fellers.

It was all just a reminder: Iraq is far away but it is happening now.

Iraq Biscuits Cookies Haji Hadgi Badah Cardamom Rose

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