Looking forward to our upcoming show at NSW Parliament House! Will be exhibiting my recent portrait of Sekneh Hammoud Beckett, alongside many beautiful portraits by our very talented PAA members.
REMOVING THE VEIL OF TEARS
Portrait of Sekneh Hammoud Beckett
“My father walks through the door. My mother, sister and I run, hide, pretend we’re cleaning or sleeping. He’s so big and so scary. His full grizzly beard, the spot of baldness on his head, a perfect fit for his self-acquired crown. His huge, fierce brown eyes, always bloodshot, a temper equivalent to a wild dog.
He hides his identity as a businessman in the community. Under the social mask lies an authoritative, strict and narrow-minded man. It’s his way or no way, and everything according to him is for the sake of Islam.
His violence and barbaric control of his daughters and wife are justified in the name of Allah by the Arabs in the community who admire him.
They have turned a blind eye to our black eyes.
My mother is in the kitchen, preparing the meals, ironing the clothes, doing the dishes for my father and my brothers. Under the traditional Islamic veil, which covers her from head to toe, her skin is as white as ice; her body craves to see the sun. Her legs, webbed with varicose veins mark the scars from the tiredness of her life. Her heart aches from depression, her eyes are swollen from sadness. She runs the household and is always there for her family. She is a woman with a voice that is never heard and who has learnt to deal with her life.
Who am I? A woman with a voice who is never heard, but who will not accept this sort of life. Being the eldest of eight children, a great deal of responsibility was placed upon me. Being a girl, I also had to maintain my family’s reputation. I had to listen, obey and never question. I had to wear the Islamic veil, not for the sake of Islam, but because of what people would say.
My father’s greatest fear was that his daughters might elope with a non-Muslim. How could he explain his kingdom to people he had no control over? I allowed my father’s religion and culture to control me because I knew the consequences of disgracing the family honour: death. And if murder is committed, a cultural plan goes into action, so the perpetrator is helped to escape to his country of origin.
I could not fight the king but silence became my power. Unfortunately still he does not know who I am, but what he thinks I am.
All bow. The king has a successor: my chosen husband. At 16, I agreed with my father that marriage was the answer. I thought it was the perfect escape from my prison home.
My husband has the smile of a prince but his big white teeth conceal the blackness within. He was the man who would take my problems away. He was the main who would give me unconditional love and care, the things I craved.
His hands were the first to caress me sexually; the first to caress me violently.
His temper was volcanic, erupting at any time, and his words lashed at my soul. He became the man who wounded my body, my heart, my brain.
He used my weakness against my father as his power to manipulate and blackmail me into submission. I further tolerated the abuse because of the genuine fear of being murdered and having my children kidnapped and taken to a country where I would receive no access, a country where women have no rights. Violence and control are such a vicious cycle and I was trapped once again.
Today, in my country, Australia, I stand before my Judge, to judge.”
This article was written under the pseudonym ‘Hayat Tahhirah’ and published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 17 July 1996. It was written anonymously because the Lebanese-Muslim author was in fear for her safety, and the safety of her year old son. She and her son managed to escape, and were cared for by nuns with the Sisters of Charity until she was able to re-establish her life.
Today, Sekneh Hammoud-Beckett is a Narrative Psychologist, PhD candidate who has worked with youth in mental health for over 15 years. Sekneh is passionate about the therapeutic work she engages with young Muslim and non Muslim people of diverse cultures, religions, genders, sexes and sexualities. Her work has received international recognition. Sekneh believes her “work is love made visible.” The prominent Australian journalist, David Marr writes, “Beckett is matter-of-fact, passionate and Muslim. She writes, teaches and counsels in English and Arabic. The gay community regard her with great respect, not least for her bravery.”
It was a pleasure to paint Emma Deans’ portrait for the cover of her new EP – Daughter of Dynamite.
Follow the link below to hear her beautiful new music.
“Remember …” Feat. 1954 FJ Holden
Enamelled Oil on Board
25cm x 25cm
FINALIST – 2012 Mortimore Art Prize
So please to have my submission selected as a Finalist the Smalls Section of this year’s Mortimore Art Prize!
This painting is available for purchase (framed) through Australian Art Sales .(http://australianartsales.com.au/MortimorePrize/mortimoreprize.html).