musallah | Shireen Taweel | 2017
180 x 180 x 30cm.
Courtesy the artist.
Photograph - Sam Roberts Photography
musallah (2017) is a work that responds directly to the oldest standing mosque located in Broken Hill, New South Wales. The mosque is situated on the site of the former ‘camel camp’ where Afghan and Indian camel drivers loaded and unloaded their camel teams, from the earliest day of Broken Hill. The site and its history are part of reinterpretation of Muslimhood within contemporary, cross-cultural Australian communities. A translated landscape along these ideas intrigues me – representations of Australian identities only just touch the surface of the diversity of communities who have found a home here.
Formed from sheet copper and pierced traditionally by hand, musallah draws direct links to the relationship of the first Afghan settles to the land and their experiences of transience to our relationship to the landscape and currents to our own familiar environments. In this country, we rarely see ourselves as having legitimate roots and the story and heritage of the Afghan cameleers defies the erasure of our identity as Muslims in transnational settings. In direct dialogue between the urban with the rural, musallah bridges across distance and geography, bring to the public the interconnectivity of cultural synchronism within Australia’s Muslim communities.