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Ghafar Tajmohammad,
“You need to cut your
hair, you look like a girl”


Ghafar Tajmohammad,
“You need to cut your hair, you look like a girl”

The process of making this piece began by drawing inspiration from 13th Century Afghan (Herat) Illuminations found in the British Library Archives, that depicted carpets ornamented with arabesque designs. In referring to these designs through the core composition of the painting, I broke the overwhelming curved shapes with unwoven cotton fabric. This textile drapery acts as a symbolic representation of domestic carpets, on top of which pink flowers are placed preserved by a coat of beeswax to play with stereotypical notions of femininity.

    Gender norms, expectations and attitudes within migrants’ lives can be a complex subject that can also hold a significant impact on immigrant children's upbringing.


Children, whose family may retain traditional beliefs that contrast societal values in their relocated homes. Children who are left in the crossfire of these conflicting opinions. Children who have no choice nor awareness of what they’re going through. You need to cut your hair, you look like a girl - is titled in a playful manner. Yet despite the joke, this piece attempts a sincere approach to a larger conversation around conflicting opinions between private and public life. Focusing specifically on migrants' relationship with gender, the impact it has on their mental health and the cultural influences it holds on child-rearing.

A word on process

This piece exists as an expanded painting, made for UCL’s SELMA Project who have commissioned us to respond to two workshops around Gender, Displacement and Health. In having verbally explored the subject of discourse with other migrant/refugees, I picked out particular elements of the discussion which resonated the most through my own personal lived experience as a displaced Afghan migrant growing up in London.