Visual Art / Installation work

Windows of Wonder (2023)

Image by Catherine Benson

Windows of Wonder brought together a group of diverse and established Lewes artists whose practices engage with the world of objects and collections, reimagined, refashioned and reframed. Using empty retail space on Lewes High St, East Sussex, they created individual window installations to make a trail, to stimulate questions on where we can encounter art and what art can be. 

My window at Fitzroy House featured a selection of sculptures from my artist archive, some of my writing – and a curated shelf of books that have influenced or informed my recent literature projects set across the South Downs. All for this beautiful window of Lewes’ first public library (1862 – 1956).

Sculptures in my window as follows:

The Instrument That Cannot Be Played
The Instrument That Cannot Be Played, Alinah Azadeh, 2009-12

The Instrument that Cannot be Played (2009-12).Materials: Santoor, computer mouse + lead, recycled velvet, organza, kilim wool and cotton. Note: Durational sculpture, begun in response to the green protest movement in Iran, Summer 2009. Finished in 2012.

Dare to be Free (2015) Materials: Typewriter, mixed cloth, extract from Free Woman to Free Man by Cicely Hamilton (from A Pageant of Great Women, 1909) Note: Sculpture for the 1897 Foundation of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society Banner for Parliament in the Making/ Magna Carta Anniversaries.

The Beginnings of that Freedome: 1965 Race Relations Act, Alinah Azadeh. © Houses of Parliament

An Act (2015). Materials: scrolls made from recycled fabrics from countries connected to the UK through Empire, paper, text. Note: Sculpture for The 1965 Race Relations Act Banner for Parliament in the Making/ Magna Carta Anniversaries (2015)

Listen, Alinah Azadeh, 2012

Listen (2012) Materials: Roberts analog radio, earphones, textile + sari scraps, kilim wool, binding. Private Collection.

Secret Knowledge
Secret Knowledge, Alinah Azadeh, 2012 ( collection of Glasgow Women’s Library)

Secret Knowledge II, (2012). Materials: Inherited books, Persian rug scraps, flax.

Monument (to the end of credit ), Alinah Azadeh, 2012

Monument (2012). Materials: The artist’s defunct credit cards, chequebooks bound in kimono scraps, wool, wire.

Burning the Books Brixton @ 198 Gallery/ Alinah Azadeh 2015

The Book of Debts IV (2014). Performance relic : Jar of ashes from Burning the Books (2012-15) collective performance

Dance (IV), Alinah Azadeh, 2010
Dance (IV), Alinah Azadeh, 2010

Dance (from The Gifts 1-99, 2010) Materials: The artist’s mother’s shoes, recycled cloth, bias binding, Sufi poetry texts.

Voice and Presence (2011).
Voice and Presence (2011). Photo: Susan Bell

Voice and Presence (2011). Materials: Telephone, kilim wool, sari scraps, bias binding, wire, Sufi poetry texts

The Unmarked Box (2)
The Unmarked Box (2), Alinah Azadeh, 2010

The Unmarked Box

Bookshelf: books that have influenced or informed my Seven Sisters & Sussex Heritage Coast writer residency and We See You Now/ We Hear You Now projects.

Revolutionary Makers (2017)

Revolutionary Makers was a project I led for Hull City of Culture in 2017, together with a team of local artist-makers, as part of the first ever Hull Women of the World Festival. I was inspired by Hull designer Shirley Craven –  a radical textile designer –  and the growing tradition of craftivism, which uses craft to stimulate personal, social or political change, and has been around since before the suffrage campaigns . It involved a workshop series across the city, designed to create conversations, reflections and actions around gender equality and resulted in an installation around the pillars of City Hall during the Festival involving around 800 participants.

Watch a 3 min video of the WOW Festival here featuring the women, installation and pieces of craftivism we made . Watch me introducing it here before we got started.

Read my guide to becoming a Revolutionary Maker and more on craftivism here , or listen to me being  interviewed on  Radio 4 Woman’s Hour panel live in Hull during the event here.

The Beginnings of That Freedome: Westminster Hall (2015)

  • 1897 Foundation of the NUWSS, Alinah Azadeh. Photo: Xavier Young © Houses of Parliament
  • ‘The Beginnings of that Freedome: 1965 Race Relations Act' , Alinah Azadeh. Photo: Xavier Young © Houses of Parliament

I am one of  nine artists to have produced work that has been printed large scale for ‘The Beginnings of that Freedome’, a Banner Exhibition in Westminster Hall as part of the ‘Parliament in the Making’  2015 Historic Anniversaries programme.This includes marking the 800 years of the sealing of the Magna Carta and 750 years since the De Montfort Parliament. Each of us were given two themes connected to Acts passed since Magna Carta. Mine were the 1897 founding of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (Women’s Equality) and the 1965 Race Relations Act (Racial Equality).  More on my work on this project here .

Published_Voices Alinah Magna Carta March 2015 :  an article I wrote for Wi-Life magazine on the process of making the NUWSS Banner, and a  short interview with me on it, shot at Westminster on the launch day here.

Details on my Banners here. Watch me talking about them here (NUWSS) and here (Race Relations Act)

Child’s Play (2014)

Child’s Play was a large-scale installation at Imperial War Museum North,  commissioned by  Asia Triennial Manchester 2014. 

It conjured parallel worlds of both innocence and violence, either real or imagined, which dwell in the human psyche. Most of the objects Alinah used were child’s toys or could be used to ‘play at war’, from weapons and soldiers to sticks and stones. They were a response to the museum collection, as well as her own and women from south asian communities contributed objects symbolised of past and present conflict or migration experiences, following a series of encounters and workshops in Manchester. Alinah has long used the ritual act of wrapping objects in cloth to express the often conflicting desire to both remember and separate from the past.

Project blog on AN, here.

All Is Not Lost (2014)

All is not lost  was a dual-site installation work, using 800 paper scrolls (wrapped in blue cloth and bound in texts on the nature of gift) and the actions of the public – linked through a subtle intervention from one site to another – through the city itself.  It  existed in two locations, in almost identical form: the Musee  Picardie and  a cabin on the Isle Perdu (e), part of Les Hortillionages, a network of garden islands on the edge of the city of Amiens. The installation in the cabin – half of the total work – contain an open invitation to visitors to take a piece of the work away, as a gift. 400 people took one of the scrolls that made up the island work, and here is the letter they were led to online to read, which was linked to on a label around the scroll itself. It tells the story of the work and gives them further food for thought.

All is not lost was commissioned by Musee Picardie as part of their Caritas programme, and as part of the Festival Art, Villes et Paysages,  supported by  Out of the Blue Woad/Waid programme. I came to make this work through connections made during my 2014 artist residency at Fabrica Gallery, Brighton.

More on this on my Interhuman blog or Watch me talk about my residency/current focus in the second half of their Talking Point gallery film about the current On Balance show by Jacob Dahlgren here.

All is not Lost ran from June 28th – December 12th 2014.

Freedom Square (2013)

Freedom Square
Alinah Azadeh for Night of Festivals. Courtesy Artreach

A participatory installation for Night of Festivals touring 2013-14, commissioned by Artreach. One of the many artforms used to engage the public of Nottingham, Boston, Slough and Leicester in the festivals theme of celebrating freedom and democracy.

The installation consisted of 1200 fabric squares, which in each location were printed on by participants in workshops embedded in a dialogue on freedom, rights and democracy run by the artist and artreach across all four cities.

Portraits of the Unseen (2010)

Chasing Mirrors was a three year collaborative arts project working with contemporary visual artists and young people from The National Portrait Gallery’s community partners Tallo, Paiwand and An Nisa to reflect on portraiture and concepts of representation and identity. Together they responded to the Gallery’s Collection through dialogue, creative conversations and cultural exchange and developed their own creative response to issues around representation and Arabic cultural heritage.

Chasing Mirrors: Portraits of the Unseen (2010)
Portraits of the Unseen (Alinah Azadeh/ Chasing Mirrors Collective, 2010), National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo credits: N. Calvocoressi. Courtesy: NPG

Suspended installations, wall frieze, cloth, text, objects mirroring.

In the second year of the project, artist Alinah Azadeh moved the focus away from representation through human image: the outer, familiar manifestation of identity.  Instead, participants explored how portraits of the inner, ‘hidden’ self could be created.  Objects of personal resonance given and wrapped in cloth, with accompanying narratives as part of the collective piece.  Text and mirroring was integral as it is in traditional Islamic culture, in this case focusing on the names of the participants in Arabic, and a mirrored wall frieze text of metaphorical self-descriptions, which evolved from sessions with and between the members of the groups.

Project blog by Alinah at Artist’s Talking.

The Gifts (2010)

  • The Gifts 100-999, (Alinah Azadeh, 2010) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, part of the shape of things. Photo: Sogand Bahram, courtesy BMAG
  • The Gifts 100-999 (Alinah Azadeh, 2010) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, part of the shape of things. Photo: Sogand Bahram courtesy BMAG.
  • The Gifts 100-999, (Alinah Azadeh, 2010)
  • The Gifts 100-999, (Alinah Azadeh, 2010)
  • The Gifts 100-999, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, part of the shape of things. Photo: David Emeny courtesy BMAG.
  • The Gifts 100-999, (Alinah Azadeh, 2010)

In September 2009, Alinah invited the public to make donations of personal objects which ‘had outlived their emotional shelf-life’. As part of the process she asked the givers to record the personal meaning or association the objects had for them. The Gifts highlighted the artist’s interest in how shifts in emotional context can affect the meaning of objects, their role in processes of gift and exchange and in subverting ideas around the acquisition of specialist objects within museum culture.

She initiated the project with a gift of 99 objects of her own, including items belonging to her mother, who had died in the Asian tsunami of 2004. Her aim was to gather a total of 999 objects, nine being a symbolically significant number in many ways – of completion and return. Around 450 people participated in ‘wrapping rituals’, where objects and experiences of loss and longing were shared and recorded with/by the artist on and off-site, others sent objects to the artist or the museum in the post.

The installation was exhibited again in 2013 at the Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, Zhejiang Museum, China.

Part of the shape of things national programme,  co-commissioned with and shown at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, UK, and
curated by Julia Carver.  Read online catalogue here.

The Gifts project blog at Artist’s Talking.

The Bibliomancer’s Dream (2009)

  • The Bibliomancer’s Dream, 2009-10
  • The Bibliomancer’s Dream, 2009-10
  • The Bibliomancer’s Dream, 2009-10
  • The Bibliomancer’s Dream, 2009-10
  • The Bibliomancer’s Dream, 2009-10
  • The Bibliomancer’s Dream, 2009-10
  • The Bibliomancer’s Dream, 2009-10

4000+ recycled books, bespoke bookshelves, cranking system, pens, scrolls.

This large-scale book installation took the form of a set of twelve two metre high bookshelves arranged in a circle with writing desks and scrolls attached, spanning the floor of The Clore Ballroom in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre.

Referencing the ancient ritual of bibliomancy (the art of divining with books) visitors to the installation were invited to select a book at random and pick a line or verse in order to learn a truth or simply inspire the imagination. Used by many cultures throughout history and each with a preferred text by which to practice the tradition, bibliomancy has long been viewed as a way of seeking guidance or answering a question

Writing their discovered text onto a giant length of ribbon, the wisdom seekers cranked up the scroll by means of a medieval-style pulley which spooled through the bookshelf like flying poetry. Like some sort of primitive Ipod, The Bibliomancer’s Dream shuffled words and sentences around the library, allowing others to share the magic of randomly created poetry.

Installation by Alinah Azadeh, with Willow Winston and Terence Williams.

Commissioned and produced by Southbank Centre as part of Imagine Children’s Literature Festival.

Dream On (2010)

  • Dream On (2010)
  • Dream On (2010)
  • Dream On (2010)
  • Dream On (2010)

1000’s of recycled books, cable tie, notebooks, pens.

Interactive book installation on selected walls and pillars of the Queen Elizabeth Hall/ Purcell Room foyer. By Alinah Azadeh / Willow Winston, with Terence Williams.

Commissioned by South Bank Centre, London through the Imagine Festival. Sister project to The Bibliomancer’s Dream.

Photo Credits: Sam Peach, courtesy Southbank Centre.

The Loom (2005)

2005: live data feed and projection, textile, (silk noil, organza, lurex), light, sound, pens, ribbons, Final textile dimensions: 2200cm x 400 cm.

Live artwork involving mass participation in the computer-mediated weaving of a textile. The project highlighted human relationships to loss by asking 300 participants to contribute written ’emotional data – dates, places, names of two loved ones – to the textile pattern itself. This was enabled over a 4 day period online, in the installation space at The Basement, Brighton and by weavers at ASF Weave, Arundel.

  • The Loom: from Text to Textile (2005)
  • The Loom: from Text to Textile (2005)
  • Installation at The Basement,Brighton and online. Live data feed and projection, textile, (silk noil, organza, lurex), light, sound, pens, ribbons, Final textile dimensions: 2200cm x 400 cm.
  • The Loom: from Text to Textile (2005)
  • The Loom: from text to textile
  • The Loom: from Text to Textile (2005)
  • The Loom: from Text to Textile (2005)

A collaboration between the artist, ASF, ( Lead Weaver: Frederique Denniel) and AI specialist/ data designer Jon Bird (University of Sussex). Sound by Juliet Russell, mixed by Leo Sedgley. Supported by Networked Bodies through New Work Network and Arts Council England. Textile development mentored by Ann Sutton.

2007: Textile and documentation of installation later exhibited at the Constance Howard Research and Resource Centre in Textiles, Goldsmiths University, London and launched as part of the Touch, Textiles, Technology:Collaboration across Europe’ Symposium,where a paper on the project was presented to 100 international delegates.

Supported by The CHRRCT, Goldsmiths University, London, UK, with Professor Janis Jefferies as creative mentor.

Crafting Space (2008)

  • Origin Interactive: Crafting Space, 2008
  • Origin Interactive: Crafting Space, 2008
  • Origin Interactive: Crafting Space, 2008
  • Origin Interactive: Crafting Space, 2008
  • Origin Interactive: Crafting Space, 2008
  • Origin Interactive: Crafting Space, 2008

Steel mesh, 5000 ribbons, writing. 470cm x 280cm

This live installation work invited visitors to Origin to engage in the hands-on writing and weaving of a monumental textile sculpture, daily, over a two weeks. The intention was to transform visitor’s perceptions of what it means to be engaged in making. The project was the first ever-interactive commission by the Crafts Council for Origin: the London Craft Fair

The content of the work was informed by ideas around making, gift and exchange and the practice of Moshaereh (communal Persian poetry reciting).

Conceived and directed by artist Alinah Azadeh, the textile structure was designed in collaboration with sculptor Willow Winston.

Alinah’s Crafting Space blog at Artist’s Talking.

Abandon (2003)

Abandon: The Gifts, (Alinah Azadeh, 2003) Substation Margate

Group Installation show. Substation Project Space, Margate 2004

In response to the theme of Abandon, the artist took 99 of the creative tools she had used and then cast aside (through having changed mediums) over the previous decade – paints, brushes, camera, laptop, modem – and transformed them into art objects. She did this by binding each of them in kilim wools from the village in Iran her mother had left to move to Tehran and then the UK.

She then arranged these objects on the floor of the Substation, as a homage to the recent re-occupation of the formerly abandoned Substation space by artists. This work was the seed for her 2010 installation, the Gifts, 100-999.

The show was curated by Paul Hazelton of Limbo Arts and works were developed by15 artists. Visitors were given torches and invited to explore the works in otherwise total darkness.

Space within the Real (2001)

Video, multi-channel sound, fabric roses, light, mirrors, poetry, textiles, scent, Persian food. Sited in the artist’s Brighton seafront flat, part of the Brighton Festival Fringe, UK.

The artist’s debut installation work, exploring connections between the domestic and the sublime, between public and private space.

  • Space within the Real (2001)
  • Space Within The Real (2001)
  • Space within the Real (2001),
  • Space within the Real, 2001

Inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s ‘The Poetics of Space’, the work was created to answer the questions: How can my living room tell you what it sees through its windows? Who’s inside the cupboard under the stairs? What do the walls of my corridor sound like? If my garden could dream, what would it see and hear?

Supported by University of Westminster (MA Final Project, supervised by Stevie Bezencenet). Poetry by Fredrik Lloyd, Rumi and Hafiz. Sound by Leo Sedgley.