For each day of Refugee Week 2018, we will be sharing the stories of one of the five refugee and asylum-seeking women who were painted by the artist Caroline Walker in their accommodation for her latest series of paintings, ‘Home’, which was exhibited at Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge.
Noor (name changed) is an artist from Pakistan. She is staying with a host family while her asylum claim is being processed. Previously, she was homeless and staying with a friend in a tiny room.
“The place I’m staying now is the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived in London or in the UK. It’s a beautiful house with beautiful people. I live with two couples, who are fascinating and very kind. They are very inspiring to me and I’ve learnt so many things from them. I have been staying there for three months now.
My bedroom is nice. It’s a small room but I enjoy being there because it’s my own space. Before I was sharing which was difficult because I’m a very clean person so I like everything to be tidy.
When I looked at Caroline’s paintings I could see that her main subject is women, and the way she paints is important to me. In her paintings you see the feeling and emotion. I saw so many moods in the paintings and they relate to the colours that she chooses. In the media and on TV you only see smart things and gorgeous bodies. But we have all kinds of women. I really like how Caroline paints women in relaxed poses.
I think that whoever will see the paintings of me will know that there is a woman who has been through so many things but has kept hold of hope. If I remember my life two years ago I was so messed up, it seemed like everything had finished and I couldn’t keep on living.
Now I realise that I have the ability to forgive. We have everything inside us, including so much strength, we just need to throw out the bad experiences and feelings. I have been through so many things, but I can forgive everything that everyone has done to me. I start my life again with new hope and I think in my pictures we will see the new Noor who was not there before! It will be great to see myself like this.
I am very proud that I am going to be in this project with the other women, showing this hope. I think my pictures will also encourage other refugee women, as now I am in this emotionally stable position. I have a place to live, I do voluntary work and I feel free to take part in this society now. I have big dreams for the future. I have been to the Tate Modern and when I was there I was hoping that one day I could paint and display my own work there.
I want to say to everyone who is in this process, don’t spoil yourself by just sitting and thinking during all of the waiting. I have been through trauma, I’ve been in mental hospitals and I’ve felt that I am useless and I am worth nothing. But if you are in London then you have good opportunities, just go out and find them. Keep yourself busy!”
Noor is now staying with a different host family and is studying fashion in London.
Every week over 100 refugee and asylum-seeking women join our activities in London, if you’d like to support our work with women like Noor please donate here.