Page 1


Hana Tajima

Rachel Dadd

Hannah Habibi

Betsy Greer

Ceri May


printed by Ex Why Zed, Cambridge, UK

Issue One, Spring 2013. Front cover collage image by Sofia Niazi. Origional photograph credited to W.M. Hunt. ŠOOMK Zine. If you wish to reproduce any artwork or writing from OOMK Zine please contact the relevant artist/s.


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fabric In our first issue we unpick the work of artists who explore fabric in interesting and inspiring ways. Their individual involvement, appreciation or struggle with the material gives us an insight into how women today incorporate fabric into their art and into their lives.

From the curtains that shut the world out to the bandages that help us heal, to the clothes that cover and protect us, we keep fabric close and always have.


the oomks One of my kind is a highly visual, handcrafted small-press publication. Our content largely pivots upon the imaginations, creativity and spirituality of women. We are Sabba Khan, Sofia Niazi And Rose Nordin

sofia illustrator + zine maker

editorial support by holly meier

sabba illustrator + cat lover

rose illustrator + designer


A H ab e r d ash e r y tr ail london 2.











1. VV Rouleaux, 102 Marylebone Lane WIU 2QD

2. Fabrications 7 Broadway Market E8 4PH

3. Queens Market Queens Market E13

4. Sewing and Craft Superstore 300 Balham High Road SW17 7AA


sar ah h ud so n self portrait series

Wistful photos of a seemingly long lost past, Battle Sisters hand embroider and stitch memories, forever encapsulating and framing in cotton and thread.


modest ambition hannah habibi hopkin

Stitch. Stitch. Stitch. The patience, the precision, the delicacy. Stitch after stitch lulling you into a sleep-like state. The repetition, the carefulness, the endurance. Stitch. Stitch. Stitch. The mantras of the seamstress: “Keep your hands clean”; “Don’t pull too tight”; “Keep your threads short”. With each stitch, seemingly surrendering your free will in the service of the creation of a bigger picture. Stitch. Stitch. Occasionally a needle pricks your finger, you pause to suck the blood away then carry on. This is the image of the submissive seamstress. There is something about needlework that seems to epitomise the so-called ‘virtues’ of womanhood. Throughout history and across the world, sewing, needlework, and embroidery have generally been the preserve of women. It conjures up visions of upper class women passing the time, middle class women with a ladylike occupation, and working class women weaving and sewing to serve and survive. And it appears that even

today we continue to see contemporary sewing in the same light: a modest ambition, acceptable and unthreatening. Work for women. Last year I started making a series of pieces involving all types of needlework: embroidery, appliqué, and quilting. I am not sure exactly what drove me to the needle and thread, but it is having a profound effect on my understanding of what it means to be a female artist.


Modest Ambition


My work has always had a throbbing feminist vein running through it and as a result it has been hard for some to accept. That, coupled with my portrayal of women in burqa and niqaab, has particularly challenged my audience and especially those men who believe that as a woman, I shouldn’t have an audience at all. It appears that to some people a female artist is an unpalatable thing! Easily dismissed by the industry and easily disliked by the public, the work of female artists rarely fascinates as much as their ‘shocking’ personal lives. How often do you hear male artists being critiqued with as much vitriol as Tracey Emin for her ‘attention seeking’ or Sam Taylor Wood for her relationship with a ‘toyboy’? When it boils down to it, as a female artist, you are seen as clamouring for attention and pandering to your ego, both particularly unbecoming for a woman. There is a hierarchy in art that is most definitely defined by the connotations of male/ female, and embroidery comes very low down the ladder, if at all. As the art historian Rozika Parker explained in her book The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery & The Making of the

Feminine, “when women paint their work is categorized as homogeneously feminine – but it is acknowledged to be art. When women embroider, it is seen not as art, but entirely as the expression of femininity.”

As a result of its association with women and ‘the home’, sewing has never properly been accepted as a ‘real’ art form. It is a folk art, a handicraft, a homemaker’s skill. I exhibited my first two pieces of needlework last year and at the show a visiting curator told me that I needed to decide if I wanted to be an artist or an artisan. That was when I realised for myself the perceived inferiority of this ‘female’ medium as a mode of artistic expression. Perhaps that’s why those men who struggled to accept me as a painter are not so threatened by my embroidery. I am making pretty things, rugs, dresses, scarves, and there’s nothing threatening in that, right?

Wrong. Despite its perceived inferiority embroidery has always been the predominant


outlet for female expression, and in fact what looks like a humble sampler is really the rendering of an identity on cloth. This seems to be lost on many audiences who still suffuse embroidery with an idealised perception of female infantile sexuality. Within the sexual values of the Victorian climate, the seamstress embodied a seductive docility and virginity (virtues that are still prized in our century). What these male onlookers failed to understand was that the silence that surrounded the seamstress was not submission: instead, there sat a woman devoting herself to thinking for herself. One just has to look at the works of the late Louise de Bourgeois and more recently Tracey Emin to see that stitching has been used (and increasingly so) as a ‘weapon of resistance’ against gender constraints. Earlier this year I created a sewn piece titled Modest Ambition. It represented the way in which I felt certain people wanted me to tone myself down as an artist, and to conform, and fulfil an ideal as a woman. The act of creating this piece was destructive: I took items of homeware; a prayer mat, bedding and cushions, and either cut them up, obscured

or rearranged them. With the reassembled pieces I created a wall hanging reading HOME SWEET HOME, the most common, most innocuous type of sentiment one might typically find on a cross stitch. The process itself, as well as the final piece of work, reflected the act of conformity and the moulding of the self into a palatable form.

It helped me come to terms with the fundamental truth that women simply must not, and cannot, define themselves by the pursuit of love, either as artists or as human beings. So, whilst the dismissive words of that curator ring in my ears, I will continue to stitch regardless of its acceptability as art. All modes of creativity, however society chooses to perceive their worth, cultivate independent thought and so have an innate power.

So for those men who don’t think I should be an artist: when I sew, you should still be outraged!


r e e n a mak wa na city in stitch

Reena Makwana is one of our favourite illustrators. Her hand-embroidered illustrations never fail to impress and over the years she has produced a body of work that has been exhibited widely. Reena is not afraid to explore her personal interests; in a series called ‘Science Fiction Ladies’ she produced several beautiful illustrations of iconic women including Scully (The X-Files) and Ellen Ripley (Alien).

The above illustration of a street scene was featured in the last issue of the poetry and illustration publication inc. zine.


RO S E NO RD I N a-z

Graphic artist Rose Nordin illustrates a sweet and sad farewell narrative to an animal friend.


RO S E NO RD I N vampire babies

A playful illustration capturing movement and endless narrative possibilites.


s ab b a k h an moon juicing

Moon Juicing is inspired by Italo Calvino’s short story “The Distance of the Moon.” In her illustration Sabba Khan captures a poignant moment within the tale. It is the point when the travelers jump between the stratospheres of the Earth and the moon and harvest the juice of the moon.


Ceri May wool and felt creations

The Beginning In November 2010 I discovered the existence of a feltograph, which is basically using fuzzy felt to tell stories. I decided to create my own feltograph and used it to tell the Mabinogion tale of Blodeuwedd at Mike West’s Camden School of Enlightenment. A few months later, I was talking about my felty stories and someone asked me if I made my own felt. I lied and said yes I did. To atone for the lie I decided to learn how to felt. I bought some wool tops and bubble wrap (an essential felt making tool) and made my first small rectangle of felt. I was a liar no more. The Drive Initially, what really excited me was how easy and satisfying it was to master the basics of felt-making. On my first ever felting adventure I remember making a little rectangle of felt from grey massam wool in about 15 minutes, having read a brief tutorial about it

online. So yes, I really like that you can make a beautiful thing pretty quickly, but that also there are a range of techniques and methods you can try where you make a beautiful thing very slowly. My love of felting has also grown into a real appreciation for wool and the process that it has to go through to become something useable. Wool is an incredible material, versatile and also very environmentally sound. I’m very interested in using fibres from local breeds of sheep and in processing fleeces myself. I find it very satisfying going from the raw grubby stuff straight off a sheep and transforming it into a character for a story. The Inspiration There is a wonderful feltmaker called Ellie Langley, who lives on a small-holding in the Pennines. She makes beautiful, imaginative pieces (including a coffin and a wedding dress), using wool from her own flock of sheep. She has my dream life I think.


What advice would you give to someone making their own felt? Well, first I would congratulate them on their excellent choice of wool craft and then encourage them to just start playing and especially to experiment with blending colours (which can be done by hand or using carders), as that is really quite a lot of fun. Another thing I’d really encourage is for people to try using a variety of different kinds of wool, and to try and source these from local suppliers if possible. Look beyond Merino wool, it’s great for felting and widely available, but wools from native British breeds such as Bluefaced Leicester are also great to work with.


Craftism B e t s y gr e e r In a nutshell, craftivism is a term that defines the intersection of “craft” and “activism.” Or, if you prefer, here’s the Twitter-sized definition: “Activism helps you be the change. Craft helps heal. Craftivism = making to change and heal, whether alone or with a group.” I wish it was that simple to explain to people in realtime, however, because most people get stuck on figuring out what the hell I just said, “Crafti-what? Craftivision? Craftism?” instead of figuring out what craftivism actually is. And what is it? Outside of that wee little definition?

Craftivism is caring about others. It’s about taking your crafty (and creative) skills and using them to better the lives of another. You can do so publically or anonymously, in a group or by yourself, at the bus stop or on your sofa, quietly or loudly. It’s a form of activism that defies the notion that activism

is something that needs to be confrontational or jarring. It’s a form of activism that Sarah Corbett of The Craftivist Collective and I decided was “activism for introverts” over lunch one day. It’s a form of activism that allows you to speak your mind about a cause/ need/injustice/illness without forcing people to pay attention to you. By making something and then donating it/hanging it up/giving it away you’re allowing people to form their own questions about the cause at hand; if they have more questions, they will come to you. As long as the tenets of that intersection speak to you, you’re a craftivist. I think that point is important to note because it’s not about what you do or how you do it, but about why you do what you do. It’s about making craft and creativity the best and brightest it can be by enjoying


the process of making, and caring that the outcome makes a difference. Some craftivists knit booties for premature infants, chemo caps for cancer patients or helmet liners for soldiers. Some craftivists yarnbomb their local park to make it more beautiful. Some craftivists make protest banners (a la The Craftivist Collective)and put them up on the high street. Some craftivists make scarves and leave them around town for the needy and/or homeless to find. Some craftivists make sock monkeys to give to kids who have no toys who are sick or in need of comfort (a la Operation Sock Monkey). And that’s just the shortlist.

Craftivists are people who care about others and want to use their creative skills to make the lives of others better, whether the aim is to comfort them, make them think, make them smile or keep them warm. Over the years I’ve knitted items and donated them to charities, knitted squares for group blankets to be donated,even made items for loved ones that are going through rough times. I’ve also been making cross stitch pieces based on anti-war graffiti from around the world off and on for the past 7 years. I started this project as a way to show that war is something that people all over the world are against, that the voices of the people (via graffiti)are anti-war, differing from the voices of the few that start wars (politicians, governments, rogue factions). This work has been shown in books, in galleries, on web sites around the world. What I like about it is that it is very vocal about being against war, while not being confrontational. If people want to ask me about why I made the work, we can then engage in a conversation similar to one that might be had at a traditional marching, chanting protest, but with less yelling, more dialogue and more peace.

I like the subversion of the paradigm that occurs when people ask me about my work - how it becomes a dialogue opened without my even having to open my mouth.


betsy greer liberty


RU k I A B E G U M collar sculptures

“My vision of pattern is that, it shouldn’t be left to look just nice, it should have an impact, leave us wondering into another world”. We couldn’t help but be fascinated by Rukia’s intriguing collar sculptures. A recent graduate from Central St Martins, Rukia’s practice centres on surface design, she is interested in the pattern, textures, colours and their meaning. To produce her beautiful designs she uses a combination of traditional screen printed methods with CAD software.


Rachael Dadd stitched illustration How did you get started with stitched illustration? The first thing I made using the drawing technique on my sewing machine was a card for my friend - it was so tricky at first and looked really childlike, which was quite nice actually. Can you tell us a bit about your process? At first I thought I had to leave the sewing machine foot on and spin the fabric/paper 360 degrees to make a circle that`s a very difficult method by the way! If you take the foot off the machine and drop the teeth (most machines have a function to do so and if they don`t you can manually unscrew the teeth from with in if you feel confident you won’t harm the machine). Then it`s very easy - the fabric/

paper moves freely - it`s as if the pen (needle) stays still and instead you move the paper or fabric. Useful tips: use an embroidery hoop; use an embroidery attachment for your machine you can. What is it about stitching that you love? Well I actually love the freedom - it`s fast and sometimes things sew themselves - especially faces. I love the intensity of color you can get from thread, especially when coloring in areas. Do you have a favorite fabric/ embroidery artist/why do you like their work? Darrel Morris. I worked for a textile art publishers and this artist’s work stood out to me for honesty, humour and skill. He hand stitches memories, often uncomfortable ones.



C H A RLO T TE C U L LE N self-portrait in stitch

Charlotte runs the feminist art collective called Project Babe. The collective supports creative women through events, exhibitions and zines. Her latest submissions based zine ‘Wannabe’ is ‘A zine for the spice girls generation, critically discussing the social pressures of the ambiguous age when society expects you to be getting married while you just want to be left alone to glitterate your face and to try and discover who you are, what you want to be and how to be it’.


S ofi a Ni az i make a wish

Drawing inspiration from African and Asian batik textiles Sofia Niazi uses a resist technique to create vibrant, narrative paintings.


Stitching in the Bay Window kate rolison Kate Rolison shares her experience of hosting a pop-up exhibition in an art festival in her hometown, Walthamstow. Everyone gets stuck in, from toddlers to professional artists to pensioners. Trail listings (including a map) can be picked up from libraries, pubs or community centres, so that the eager art obsessives of the ‘Stow can plan their routes (and get their fix!) Despite the three weeks that the Trail lasts, it’s very unlikely that anyone will make it to everything – there’s simply too much to take in! My little contribution was a collection of embroideries on antique doilies and handkerchiefs. The embroideries were a sort of “year’s retrospective”; a selection of what I had made in my last year at university, and of the few pieces I had made since graduating in June. Pieces from three different bodies of work

were on display; embroideries from The Cure for Love, from On Being Soft, and from The Onion Cutters’ Club. I selected a handful of embroideries from each project to exhibit in the Art Trail, and it wasn’t long before I had an audience! I’d exhibited in the previous year’s Trail, and was beginning to get more involved in the community, so I think people were quite curious to see what I would come up with. There were one or two evenings when I’d come home from work to find six or seven people standing in my front garden! This made it a much more direct way of exhibiting, and a very humbling one. Exhibiting in the Art Trail was a wonderful way to meet other artists, neighbours, and members of my community, and of getting myself out there. I


would really recommend this opportunity to anyone who considers themselves creative. And if your area doesn’t already offer one, why not start a petition for your own arts festival?

In early September, I transformed the front window of my parents’ house into an art gallery. Pearlized pins were pushed through cloth, the display board was man-handled into the window, and beverages were quaffed.


The Lost Art of Sewing sabba khan

This article was meant to be about the death of British manufacturing. For some reason, I had thought Singer sewing machines were British-made. I was wrong! The first ever patented sewing machine was by a Brit (woo hoo!), but unfortunately Isaac Singer, the daddy of the Singer Manufacturing Company, was from the States. So I’m left to wonder- what led me to believe such a thing? Ah ha! It’s that damned All Saints from Spitafields parading all those unused (probably now dysfunctional) Singer machines in their shop fronts and all up in my face! Yes that’s probably it! But either way, British or otherwise, the Singer Sewing Machine has made its historic mark in the home.

This impeccable icon of industry, symbol of manufactured beauty, resonates in many souls and minds. It promises the perfect stitch, the neatest thread alignment, the most well-oiled foot pedal. I’ve just bought one myself actually. It has the most intricate foot pedals I’ve ever seen. Things that I have no idea how to operate! I mean, I know how to use a sewing machine (I have always had one in the family home), but the Singer’s extension foots are just a visual feast for the eye. And as I gorge on the manufactured delicacies, the intricately moulded steel plates, and shapely curves of each needle holder, I quickly realise that I am fast becoming one of those antique hoarders. Those 10am-on-a-Saturday-


morning Antique Road Show hosts who sit there revelling in a bygone era, talking so passionately about the object in all hopes that they’ll transport themselves to that time and era when George II held banqueting feasts and drank from the very chalice they are holding now.

But wait! Why have we let the sewing machine become a symbol of antiquity? We still clothe ourselves, and we still wear stitched clothing, woven with cotton and tailored using patterns. So if clothing and the production of clothing has not changed, why have our perceptions of the machines that produce the clothing altered? Is it because that kind of industrial labour has now become redundant in the UK? Is it because China, India and Vietnam have become some of the biggest exporters of clothed goods, so that we, as a nation, no longer need to think about the production of clothing? Is it that far gone from our day to day that we can now easily purchase a sewing machine from the second hand shop at a fraction of the original price and keep it in our homes as a glorified object of antiquity? Or is it because the mass manufacturing market cultivated by large expansive companies as seen in Edward Bertynsky’s film Manufactured Landscapes have reduced the symbol of clothing to a mere easily forged and easily discardable garment? Are we so

far removed from the process of clothing our bodies that these notions just don’t seem important anymore? I really don’t know. I think of the ever increasing global population, and I think of all those bundles of cheap clothing I send off to charity every year, and I wonder whether there is a balance in all these things. Are some poor children in a third world country entirely reliant on my rejected clothing from H&M, or am I just being a spoilt brat continuously wanting to be on the latest cusp of cheap high street fashion, whilst also buying antique sewing machines in order to maintain a thread of history? I look back at my Singer sewing machine, the type that transforms from writing desk/ dining desk / work surface to HEY PRESTO amazing-sewing-machine-funtimes!

And I realise that all those beautiful foot pedals will probably go unused…as I will most likely be in H&M shopping for the latest trends next weekend.


Tr ansi t of V e nus R ay B rad b ur y . 1 9 2 0 t o 2012 simone rodney-foli

He wrote prolifically, madly.


K u r d i s h k i nd A photographic journal of travels in Syria by Hudda Khaireh and Nazmin Khanom.

Syria is home to many different ethnic, religious and migrant communities. Concentrated in the southern regions of Syria, one of its largest ethnic minorities are the Kurds. Syria’s Kurds have long faced routine discrimination and harassment at the hands of the Assad regime. In the face of the escalating conflict and uncertainty in Syria we turn the clocks back to 2009 and take a glimpse into the rural life of one Kurdish family through the eyes of two students from London.



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Caravanserai canning town’s new trading post

1. An inn built around a large openair courtyard for accommodating caravans along trade routes, mainly in central and western Asia. 2.A large inn or hostel. The Caravanserai; a community project in the heart of Newham, transforms a patch of left over land into a trading post for small upstarting businessess, as well as a respite for the locals. Materials have been salvaged from the construction of the nearby Olympic stadiums. Open daily, this exciting new experiment begins to redefine the traditional ‘market’, hosting language classes, skills workshops and night time gatherings. A continuously evolving site, it is a must see for anyone around East London.


Stenciled Artwork at the front gates of the Canning Town Caravanserai.

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Hana Tajima

Like hundreds of other women, I found Hana Tajima to be a stunning and inspiring visual embodiment of Islam. Personality, style, creativity and devotion are sewn together in the fabric of her garments and life story. As a fashion designer and convert to Islam, Tajima works to create stunning visual impact in her designs. She is an active supporter of DIY and craft and is currently working on a personal zine project. She is truly one of my kind.



Simoné Rodney-Foli Illustrator A restless soul in a human body. + I like to try everything because I never know what might come of it. + If I don’t trust my ‘gut instinct’ I usually regret it afterwards. + I have to be organized enough to know what I’m aiming for but allow enough chaos in so that there’s always an element of surprise. What are the top five things that inspire you or your work?

+ Nature

+ Dreams

+ People

+ Reading

+ Music

What does the concept of faith mean to you? It’s almost like a crowd of people looking at something amazing, but you can’t see anything because you’re right at the back. You want to know what’s going on. People can tell you what they saw afterwards but it’s not the same as experiencing it for yourself. Who do you look up to? I look up to anyone who has come from humble beginnings and has gone on to do something amazing, without forgetting the journey and the people who helped them along the way.


Name your top five female heroes. Unfortunately i have none that are real. What does your work bring to the world? A doorway into the inner workings of my mind.

What is your favourite quote?

Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly. -Langston Hughes.


si mone r od n e y fo l i orion


ha n nah h i l l of h ane cdo te creep

Hannah is a young artist who has recently begun to incorporate themes of feminism into her embroidery. Full of ideas, she powers through social stigmas surrounding the female body, as well as teen depression and sexism. Her embroidery is quirky and tries to approach issues through her use of a medium which is typically delicate and traditional.


Rama Masri Zada epic tales

Rama Masri Zada is a Syrian artist and writer whose charming depictions of Syrian life and culture have caught our eye. Rama paints instinctively, she has an eye for colour and despite receiving no formal training her paintings are wonderfully telling and full of life. Originally from Damascus, Rama currently works and resides in California, she is hopeful that the situation in her country will soon improve so she can return home. We hope Damascus will return to its former glory before too long and that it will offer her many more scenes to capture.


‘Man in a Public Café’ this painting depicts a typical scene from the old Damascene life, a man smoking “Arkila” or “Shisha”. Public cafes were the male place for entertainment, men would spend hours drinking chamomile or cumin tea or one of the many other traditional beverages and listening to the storytellers tell stories such as the epic love story Abla and Antara. ‘Abla is the Juliet’ heroine of Arab folklore. Her love story with Antara is very famous. Antara was a pre-Islamic Arabian hero and poet (525-608) famous both for his poetry and his adventurous life. What many consider his best or chief poem is contained in the Mu’allaqat. The account of his life forms the basis of a long and extravagant romance with Abla. Many artists have made collections of paintings depicting the epic story of Antara and Abla. These paintings are displayed in the public cafes the famous Al- Nofara Cafe in Damascus.


On keeping a visual journal holly


In my youth I was a voracious keeper of diaries. As an adult, though, I missed having a regular outlet for my thoughts and observations. Welcome to the world of visual journal-keeping. A visual journal is so much more fun and interesting than a written one, and it can take any form at all. It really doesn’t matter what your artistic ability is at the moment. Mine was pretty poor when I started. Just the act of keeping a visual diary will help you improve, if that is a goal, but even if you feel that you can’t manage the simplest line drawing yet, you could start with some collaging of photos and ephemera or doodling in felttip and build up your confidence from there. I’ve produced a stack of visual journals in which I’ve tried out just about every technique under the sun. There are pages thick with acrylic and oil pastels and feathers and pages with nothing but minimalist pen-and-ink sketches of old buildings. I am periodically drawn to different styles and materials, but one thing remains constant: these books amount to a record, one day at a time, of the world around me as I’ve experienced it for the last twenty-four months. Since starting my own, I have become obsessed with looking at the journals and sketchbooks of other people, and luckily there are lots of books and blogs where I can do just that. Once you have an idea of the kind of work you are interested in, it’s easy to find whole communities of people doing similar kinds of


art, and again, the Internet is your friend. Following blogs of regular journal-keepers and sketchers is a great way to stay motivated and inspired to keep up your own. Life is precious and transitory. Don’t let it all slip though your fingers unappreciated: slow down and engage with it by getting down your best approximation of it in your journal while you can.

Learn to see what is really there. I promise you something magical will happen.


Ma l a l a Y o us a fzai Below is a picture of Malala Yousafzai, a student and education activist from a town in the Swat District of Pakistan. On 9 October 2012, Malala was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. She was injured severely and is currently being treated in a hospital in Birmingham. Girls pursuing education in Pakistan face many difficulties and while hostility from the Taliban affects many children it is not the only threat they face. Since 2010 US drone attacks have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan, including children, and as a result many are being taken out of school either out of fear of a drone-strike or to compensate for income lost from a dead or wounded relative. We truly admire Malala and her efforts: she is a brave and inspiring girl growing up in a very difficult time. Get well soon Malala, the world needs you!


g ar e t h p e i r c e Gareth Peirce in an English solicitor who has been working since the 1970s on many cases that involve miscarriages of justice. Recently she has been representing two Muslim men from my local community, Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad, who have spent a total of 14 years in prison without trial, the longest to date. She, along with many others, had been trying to prevent their extradition to the US where they would ‘live’ in a supermax prison in solitary confinement for at least a year. Her tireless work to try and defend the human rights of men who many have condemned as terrorists and ‘unwelcome guests’ before they have even stood trial has been a great inspiration not only to me but to the men accused and their families and supporters. Even though both men have been extradited, Gareth continues to support them and has already arranged to see them in the US.

Poster by Sofia Niazi from Melanie Maddison’s zine ‘Shape and Situate #4: Posters of Inspirations European Women’.


t al h a ah s a n Talha Ahsan is a British poet from South London. He recently won the Platinum Award for his poem “Grieving” at the Koestler awards 2012, an annual nationwide prisoner arts award. In October 2012 he was extradited to the US and is currently being detained at Northern Correctional Institute in Connecticut. We share his poem ‘Extradition’ with you.


extradition Five years ago they brought me to a cell and ever since a waiting game plays here. As they decide on sending me away, my parents grow so grey and sad at home. How will they manage visiting me there or must they wait until the end of time? Ma, hear my oath, by him whose hand is time, bars stand in worship with me in this cell. So even if I’m extradited there and taken from my humble parents here, then tell them paradise is our true home whose gardens years will never fade away. To Florence prison I’ll be sent away It doesn’t matter what will be my time. No prison ever can be called my home, how ever long they put me in a cell. A higher power occupies me here who’s closer to me even over there. Perhaps they’ll clean their hands of me once there. And then my country feels I’m wiped away. Though germs stay always floating from me here: these particles will gather born in time, a culture breeding from a tiny cell, to carry on infecting every home. Theresa May, a minister at home though feeble servant to her masters there; a solitary torture chamber cell, To put me in, she’ll simply say, ‘Away!’ So let me while I can devote my time to work for my own justice over here. I pitch a tent for battle waiting here. And in this heart of mine you’ll find a home, free from the crumbling effects of time or any rotting thoughts of being there. It is a sin for me to run away As patience brings my glory to this cell. For time will be a brief sojourning here, and there, or anywhere I make a home Away! A caravan escapes my cell.


se w far se w go o d mimi butler



S i z e wi se ** cut-out poster **


Suspicious Minds tolu adebanjo

I’d like to say that when I bought “King of the Castle” that I read it straight away, eager to rush into the deeper elements of existence. But that’s not what happened. When I bought this book, I left it on my bookshelf for over a month. I did this because I was scared. Scared and suspicious. Every few days I would pick up the book, muse over its back cover then hastily put it to the back of the shelf, or rather to the back of my mind. The blurb said that the book dealt with “a consideration of secular societies” attempt to possess their citizens, body and soul, and how, as a consequence, the necessity of redefining human responsibility becomes [...] imperative”.


I wouldn’t blame you if you suddenly have that same allergic reaction and want to dismiss this too. Possession of citizens, I thought? Not today. Redefinition, I thought? Don’t know what for. Responsibility, I thought... when was the last time I even read that word? Well, either way, I decided this book was strange. Too confrontational, too critical of a world where I was doing okay and I was getting by fine. When I did eventually get around to reading it, it was ‘made’ for me by the frank manner in which it had been written. Gai Eaton is an accidental writer, virtually stumbling into his first publishing experience with T.S.Elliot and the other publishing opportunities that followed it. Eaton’s essays are essentially a way for him to process his thoughts and his opinion in a style that is neither heavy handed nor whimsical. He explores, rather than answers, and reflects, rather than condemns. As a person fascinated by the study of religion all his life, Eaton seems like an individual naturally drawn to address the largest questions of existence. So: just what are those questions? Throughout King of the Castle we see that it’s not just the ‘why am I here?’ It’s the ‘why are we here,

in this form and for what purpose?’ It’s the question of whether this great modern individual is the ultimate development of self-renovation or self-destruction. As ever, Eaton sees a reason in all arguments and replies in the visual. Imagine, he says, a group of people in the desert. Thirsty and in need they look towards one mountain for hope of sustenance. Some see part of this mountain and take that to be the whole. Some see a section of the mountain and take it as a part. There are still others who have their back turned to the mountain, denying all existence of it altogether. Their opinion is at best in error and at worst catastrophic. As I made my way through images like this, I took moments of reflection in the same way I used to take moments of rejection. I thought to myself: What if those with their backs to the mountain should convince others to deny it? What if they led others to face the desert and their existence as merely a functional routine to ‘survive’? I thought back to that blurb. Perhaps Eaton has a point…

And I read on.


You Reap what your Neighbours Sew sofia niazi For the last few years I’ve been struggling to make the most of my small South London back garden by growing things we could eat.

But sadly, much of the time, the only thing I’ve grown is tired. My potatoes come out looking like mucky pebbles, my pumpkins start rotting and fall off as soon as they’ve grown to the size of a walnut and most of the time I’m left looking on while my seeds are engulfed by compost but never sprout a thing. While there have been some successful crops (thanks God), on the whole it has all been rather disappointing. So this year I decided that I wasn’t going to grow anything. If I don’t play, I can’t lose, right? Well, while I’ve taken a back seat to the gardening,

nature, it seems, has had other plans. Slowly and silently my back yard has become host to many new and exciting edibles that have got nothing to do with me. Several raspberry plants, which seem to have spread from my neighbour’s raspberry bush, have settled on our side of the fence and are flourishing. Lots of hazelnut shoots appeared shortly after our other neighbours had their squirrel heaven hazelnut tree chopped down. Blackberry plants from God-knows-where have been creeping up in several spots,


and countless tomato plants, originating from the compost heap I imagine, have popped up all over the place. All this and I didn’t lift a finger. A few weeks ago one of my neighbours had part of their fence blown away by some freakishly strong wind. While she was waiting for someone from the council to come round and fix it, she invited me to come and have a nosy around her garden. My neighbour is under the illusion that I’m very good at gardening - I think this is because of the amount of time I spend in the garden and because of this one time that I built a makeshift greenhouse. Anyway, she wanted me to look at some of her plants so I jumped over the broken fence and followed her around her garden. She led me up to a bushel of raspberry plants that she had planted last year but had failed to fruit. This year they were full of flowers and looking extremely healthy. I told her how they had even spread to our garden and she was very pleased. I felt a bit bad that our ones had a lot more fruit than hers, but she didn’t seem to mind. She then went on to show me a large unkempt patch of land at the back of her garden where nothing would grow. Her neighbours on the other side had a very impressive tree towering at the back of their garden. Over the years the vast network of roots had spread and now sit under many of the surrounding gardens. Consequently they have caused the soil in those regions to become acidic and the plants she likes never seem to grow there.

The state of our back yards have shown that, for better or worse, nature has had little regard for the barriers my neighbours and I have put up. The choices that we made in our own space have affected neighbouring areas. While neighbours with fruits have caused more fruit to grow, neighbours with other things have made it harder for us to grow what we want. So gardeners, take note if you want things to flourish, consider carefully what is going on around you, because like it or not, it is bound to have an effect!


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OOMK Issue 1  

One of My Kind is a highly visual, handcrafted small-press publication. Our content largely pivots upon the imaginations, creativity and spi...