Rana Ibrahim: Project Iraqi Women Art and War

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An artist/filmmaker and freelance museum professional, Rana Ibrahim is a ‘Transformer – Diversify’ participant embarking on a new project exploring the lived experience of Iraqi women through chosen objects that she herself will curate, encouraging other women to do the same. Rana has written this piece together with her friend about her project: Iraqi Women Art and War.

The project will enable Rana to develop an exhibition of ‘war art’ which will enlighten and challenge visitors’ and colleagues’ understanding of the human costs of the recent war in Iraq in 2003. By highlighting the artefacts’ histories, she is aiming to show what positive contributions an immigrant Iraqi woman can make at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in particular, and in the in the museum sector in general. In the military museum sector, she would be fostering a world view beyond its traditional scope, whilst fostering and personifying the real need for the change in the wider museum world in terms of diversity, equality and inclusivity.

Although Rana understand that such a project involves some challenges for Trustees, colleagues and visitors, Rana believes that she has the necessary skills and sensitivity to manage the project to a successful conclusion. Yet Rana also believes that she has the necessary understanding, drive and determination to develop an interpretation of what war means to challenge fundamental assumptions. At its heart is my very strong belief that the story of war is always a human one first and foremost and that my family’s experiences in Iraq are its living embodiment.

As the project develops it is an ambition of mine to collaborate and communities with other Iraqi citizens, refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers now living in the area around Oxfordshire.

Rana has the support of the Trustees at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum and my colleagues have been generous in contributing ideas which will shape the overall interpretation.  I have many skills and ideas to share, many learned as Curatorial and collection assistant at Baghdad Museum in Iraq 1997-2000. Although the subject material is emotional for her, she believes that she is a professional first and foremost, understanding that this very emotion will support the engage of visitors and stakeholders.

At this stage Rana is very interested to hear from potential partnership. Also, she is looking to enrich her networking and to find partnerships, galleries and museums to hold the potential touring exhibition.

Rana said “As I am originally from Iraq, and I have been suffering from war all my childhood until now.  I always wanted to do something about my experience of war and show people the impact of war from the females’ perspectives in actual battlefield and what happens after in a place such as Iraq and in the hearts and minds of Iraqi female immigrants/refugees; where women make objects to help them get through and to decorate their homes.

The project is in an early stage, but with great interest and support through Museums Association as a participant on the Transformers Programme – Diversify https://www.museumsassociation.org/professional-development/transformers/transformers-2016-18. I shared my project in the ‘Festival of Change’ which held November 2017 as part of Museum Association conference in Manchester. Piloting the project idea – challenging perceptions of the war in my presentation by relating my family’s experience of war in Iraq during the period 2003 onwards called ‘Iraqi Chai-conversations with a cultural cuppa.’ the project ‘Iraqi Women Art and War ‘ start developing early stages of creation and curating in Iraq tapping into Iraqi women’s lived experiences of war through workshops – towards an eventual online/ touring exhibition traveling to different museums telling war stories through the handmade object and from recycling materials.

Ultimately, I am excited to take the project to the next level as I have been awarded the micro-funding fund of £670 and a successful grant from the International Council of Museums (ICOM –UK) for the sum of £1400 will enable me to visit Iraq during the Spring of 2018 in order to source artwork for display, collect war-related stories from local artists whose work is stimulated by the conflict and to engage local communities to participate in this joint UK – Iraq exhibition and virtual art project .”

Rana is seeking partnerships, museums and galleries to show the touring exhibition.

Rana’s other professional work is designing educational games such as Hardin’s Jigsaw game (board game) and Museum of Us game (board game). Please see here.   


Rana likes clay work and comics, these small clay samples inspired by Mesopotamia gallery @Ashmolean Museum:

Clay objects by Rana

Handmade Clay Objects by Rana Ibrahim. Comic from left to right, top to bottom reads as follows: (1) Different clay animals such as ducks, sheep and pigs (BAtttt); (2) These ‘call’ objects inspired by the Mesopotamia gallery @Ashomolean Museum (Baaaa); (3) Family of sheep (baaaaa); (4) palm trees (wow); (5) Clay pigs family (Oinkkk); (6) Palm tree and camels


Nibal project

Iraqi art designed during the war (2003-2017). Handmade vase made of old water bottle and old leather bag, by Nebal Ibrahim


See more of Rana’s work on her online gallery here.


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