Dr Ibtihal Samarayi
I began my academic studies with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Cinematography at Baghdad University, awarded in 1990. I left Iraq during the First Gulf War in 1991 and we gratefully arrived in Australia in 1994. I then enrolled in the Diploma of Fine Art at Hornsby TAFE. I was keen to pursue my interest in Sculpture, Painting, Drawing and Photography.
Upon completion of the Diploma in 1997, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Art degree at the Ourimbah Campus of the University. In this program I further developed my interest in Painting and Drawing with Printmaking and its use across a range of media and upon graduation in 2000, I enrolled in the Master of Fine Art (MFA) degree, also at Ourimbah campus.
The title of my MFA project: ‘Iraqi Artists as Refugees: Reading the Visual Narrative of War’, provided an opportunity to explore visually the experiences of Iraqi refugee artists fleeing the trauma of war and their subsequent experiences in refugee camps and in making a new life in another country.
For the practical component of the project, I reconstructed a representation of the dwelling places that refugee artists like myself had made in refugee camps in Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The final work, a mixed media installation, ‘These were my Homes’, consisted of five separate dwellings, representing the five different types of accommodation the refugee artists from Iraq, had experienced.
In the MFA dissertation, I argued for the therapeutic benefits of direct involvement in expressive artwork. I used the information from three refugee Iraqi artists that I interviewed, together with the theories of contemporary psychologists and psychotherapists working in the field of war trauma, to examine their artwork, some of it completed in refugee camps, as examples of survival strategies.
The MFA was awarded in 2003.
I enrolled in the PhD program in Fine Art, at Ourimbah campus, to explore the psychological impact of detention on Iraqi artists in Australia and the use of Art as a method of healing. This project built upon the mixed media techniques I had used in the MFA program and provided an opportunity to compare the experiences of Iraqi artists like myself who were in refugee camps and the Iraqi artists who came to Australia before the Second Gulf War as asylum seekers expecting to join families and friends who were already here. The supervisors were Professor Lyndall, Ryan, Professor Anne Graham, and Mr. Edwin Easydorchik. In 2004 I was awarded a postgraduate scholarship by the University to complete the program. The dissertation was submitted in June 2006 and the installation for the practical component was exhibited at the Gosford Regional Art Gallery from 21 July to 19 September 2006.
The PhD was awarded in 12 December 2006.
For the practical component, ‘Locked Inside’, I devised an installation that is a visual representation of the hopes, fears and frustrations of detention, drawn from the lived experiences of the interviewees. It consists of eight padlocks made of wood and foam, approximately 1.6 meters in height and two meters in width. The padlocks are placed in a circle with the key holes each with an eye inside looking out, facing into the circle. From the ceiling above the circle, hangs a large key that could open the padlocks, but it is just out of reach. The key is a digitally manipulated image. On the other side of the padlocks, facing outward, are representations of the fears and hopes of the detainees – barbed wire, beaches, family reunions, the horrors of war. On the adjoining walls hang the artwork of the asylum seeker artists and the children.
My teaching experiences have largely been in Fine Art and has focused on Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Digital Imaging and interdisciplinary approaches to the Fine Arts.
I have addressed creativity in a contemporary to the undergraduate and Postgraduate Fine Art degree students. The implications of moving from the previous projects are reviewed through student feedback, anecdotal evidence from student’s coursework submissions and a tentative observation of assessment performance.
My experience in research for the MFA, PhD included social, political, and psychological issues of refugees, both adults and children. Interviewing artists who are suffering under the harsh constrictive regulations was part of my research. Semiotic elements are very important for my research.
Chapters for Publication:
Lovat, T. & Samarayi, I. (2009).THE Lost Story of Islam: RECOVERY THROUGH THEOLOGY, HISTORY AND ART . LAP Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co KG.
Lovat, T. & Samarayi, I. (2008). Restoring justice to Islam: An historical,Theological and Artistic exploration. In M. S. Beker& J.N. Schneider (Eds.), Human rights issues in the twenty-first century. (pp.27-72) New York: NOVA Science Publishers.
Samarayi, I. (2003) Rafha Camp and Pages from Al Uboodi’s Diary, Student Union, Ourimbah Campus, The University of Newcastle
2009 December Hunter Central Coast Region-Anti Racism Contact Officer Training Edgeworth
2009 July Paper for a conference-The Role of the Study of Islam in the Western University- Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
2009 September Lecture - 'Regime Change and Altered States'course-Politics- Faculty of Business and Law Newcastle Business School
2009 February Lecture for RAAF- Cultural Awareness program- Williamtown-Newcastle
2008 January Lecture for RAAF- Cultural Awareness program- Williamtown-Newcastle
2008 February Lecture for RAAF-Cultural awareness Program-Darwin
2008 June Lecture for RAAF-Cultural awareness Program-Williamtown- Newcastle .
2008 July Lecture for RAAF-Cultural awareness Program-Darwin
2007 November Lecture for School of Nursing and Midwifery - Art Therapy-University of Newcastle
2007 July Paper for What Works conference-English Language and Foundation Studies-University of Newcastle
2006 November Paper for Art and Politics Conference, Tweed River Regional Gallery
2001 November Paper for (The Race Card Conference), These Were My Homes at Ourimbah Campus
2003 July Paper for Newcastle Anti Racism Conference-Department of Education and Training
2003 May Guest Lecturer at The University of Newcastle
2003 September Guest Lecturer at the Health Hunter, Newcastle
2005 April Guest Lecturer at Hornsby TAFE-Graduation Ceremony
2007 Academic Researcher – Prof. Terry Lovat-Education and Arts
2007 Visual Art Co-ordinator - English Language and Foundation Studies – Ourimbah Campus
2001-2006 Casual Lecturer Fine Art at Ourimbah Campus and Newcastle University
2003-2006 Casual Lecturer - Open Foundation Studies -Visual Art- Ourimbah Campus
2005-2006 Volunteer – Teaching at Lisarow High School – Students with special needs
2006 Volunteer-Gosford Regional Gallery –Art Educator for Primary School pupils and TAFE students
2004 Gosford Hospital, Central Coast Health, Art and cultural program
1998 Painter, Liverpool Hospital, voluntary work - Painting healing images for the hospital.
Drama- Actor in a play, The Swing by Al Sharq Multicultural Group-
Power House Museum, Sydney
1995 Drama- Actor in a play, The Night Passenger, Iraqi Community Organisation
Awards and Prizes
May 2007 – The Vice Chancellor's Award for programs that Enhance Learning-University of Newcastle
April 2005 – Winner First Prize – Royal on The Move Art Exhibition The Royal Newcastle Hospital
October 2004 – Encouragement Award- Camera House-Gosford
December 2003, Postgraduate scholarship award
August 2003 Highly Commended - Gosford Art Prize-Sculpture
September 2002 - Winner First Prize Gosford Art Prize - Photography
Selected Art Awards
Since I began my postgraduate studies, I have regularly exhibited my artwork in galleries in Fairfield, Gosford, Liverpool, Redfern and Newcastle and have won four prizes.
September 2002: Winner of the Photography Prize $500 in the Gosford Art Prize.
August 2003: Highly Commended, Sculpture section of the Gosford Art Prize.
October 2004: Encouragement Award in the Photography Section, Gosford Art Prize.
April 2005: First Prize $1000, ‘Locked Inside’, Royal on the Move Art Exhibition, Royal Newcastle Hospital.
Since I arrived in Australia in 1994, I have developed a strong record of exhibition of my art work. I have exhibited in galleries in Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast and at regional galleries in New South Wales. I have also curated exhibitions.
2006 Ph.D Fine Art– Ourimbah Campus- The University of Newcastle
2003 Master of Fine Art- Ourimbah Campus-The University of Newcastle
1999 – 2000 Bachelor of Fine Art- Ourimbah Campus-The University of Newcastle
1998 Diploma of Fine Art- North Sydney Institute of TAFE, Hornsby Campus
1990 Bachelor of Cinematography- The University of Fine Arts- Baghdad University
2009-September The Central Coast’s Official Launch of the Freedom From Fear Travelling Photography Exhibition1st October 2009 6pm – Gosford City Council - Erina Library Foyer
My show has been selected by Kultour 2008 to travel across Australia www.Kultour.com.au
Supported by the Australian Council. I was able to travel with my show to Alice Springs, Darwin, Adelaide and Canberra.
It was such an honour for me to hear that the PM Kevin Rudd was invited to open my show Locked Inside at Canberra Dec.2008.
The responses were great as one of the visitors to my show in Darwin came to me with tears: (I used to refuse to accept any refugees coming to Australia but your show changed my heart).
2008-April Locked Inside – Tour Show across Australia
April 25 - May 16 Watch This Space - Alice Springs
May 23 - 6 June - Tennant Creek
June 13 - 29 - Supreme Court – Darwin
August 7-29 – Katherine
25 October-23 November – ARTSPACE @Adelaide Festival Centre-Adelaide
1-24 January2009 - Belconnen Community Centre-Canberra
2008 – April Big & Small- Staff Show- Newcastle University
2006 – July Locked Inside, PhD show, Gosford Regional Gallery
2006 – February Harmonised Vitality, Energised Serenity Painting and drawings by Mandi Reid (1936-2004) curated by Ibtihal Samarayi – Watt Space - Newcastle
2005 – September The Red Lens International Photographic Competition Charles Sturt University – Dubbo Campus
2005 – April Winner First Prize – Royal on The Move Art Exhibition –The Royal Newcastle Hospital
2005 – April Loss of Place, Hornsby TAFE
2005 – March Drawing the Line, Newcastle Region Gallery
2004 – October Encouragement Award- Camera House-Gosford
2004 –October Art First (Staff Exhibition) – Mt Penang Institute of Contemporary Art-Kariong
2004 – August Locked Inside - Watt Space, Newcastle
2004 – February Hunter Art -1 Watt Space, Newcastle
December 2003 The State of Art Peace, Manly Art Gallery & Museum. Tour Exhibition to the following Regional Galleries:
Manly Art Gallery & Museum
12 December 2003 - 25 January 2004
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery
20 February – 12 April 2004
Grafton Regional Gallery
26 May – 27 June 2004
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery
16 July – 29 August 2004
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery
10 September – 10 October 2004
Port Macquarie Hastings Regional Gallery
22 October – 28 November 2004
Albury Regional Art Gallery
10 December 2004 – 16 January 2005
Tamworth City Gallery
12 February – 27 March 2005
Orange Regional Gallery
22 April – 29 May 2005
Coffs Harbour City Gallery
9 June – 16 July 2005
2003 August Highly Commanded - Gosford Art Prize-Sculpture
2003 May Solo Exhibition, These Were My Homes- Newcastle University
2003 July John Hunter Hospital- Arts for Health Program- Newcastle
2002 September Winner for Gosford Art Prize - Photography
2002 October Safari One Child's Odyssey - Gosford Regional Gallery
2001 November Exhibition for the Conference (The Race Card) at Ourimbah Campus
1998 September High in Fibre- Hornsby TAFE
1997 October General Exhibition- Hornsby TAFE
1996 October Marconi Club Exhibition, Fairfield Regional Gallery
1996 August Exhibition with Arts Alive Fairfield NSW
1996 July Iraqi arts Exhibition as a Painter Fairfield NSW
1996 March Drama actor with the Iraqi’s Community Group- Fairfield
1995 July Survivors Art Project STARTTS Performance Space at Redfern
1995 June Iraqi Art Exhibition as a Painter Fairfield NSW
1994 February MRC, Power House, Casula Power House- Painter
Reviews of my Exhibitions
Blythe Hamilton (March18-2009)Ibtihal Samarayi Acclaimed Artist Gifts to The University of Newcastle.
Jessica Cumming (Dec.9, 2008) The Chronicle Newspaper - Interview- Canberra
Karen Ashford, (Oct. 23 2008) SBS TV- News and Current Affairs- Interview-South Australia-Adelaide
Amanda Blair, (Oct.24) Five AA RADIO - Interview- South Australia- Adelaide
Julie Felkie, (watch This Space) (September 2008) Alice Springs, Locked Inside - Art Monthly Number 213
Brad Fleet, (June, 13, 2008) Interview-Northern Territory News-Darwin
Endrulat, D. (September 1, 2006) Interview - Central Coast Radio Station
Tydd, J. ( August 4, 2006) Locked Inside, Express Advocate, Central Coast
Kylie Ebert & (October, 2005) 40 Stories for Forty Years, The University of Newcastle Rowena Scanlan,
Pattison, C. (August, 2005) Padlocks tell the story, Uni News- The University of Newcastle
Stowell, J. (June 7, 2003) These Were My Homes, Weekender – art Newcastle p14
McCarthy, J. (June 21, 2003) Walking With Refugees, feature The Herald Weekender p10
Davis, S. (March 15, 2003) Interview - Radio Eye, ABC Radio National
Grahame, C. (October 11, 2002) Painful desert inspiration, Central Coast News,Express Advocate p5
Harrison, P. (March 24, 2003) Artist’s healing work, Central Coast Nation at War, Express Advocate p7
Harrison, P. (March 28, 2003) Artist’s healing work, Central Coast Nation at War, Express Advocate p1
Hearne, P. (December 1, 2000) An artistic state of mind, News Extra, The Sun Weekly, p18
Rainy, T (December 12, 1999) Community Capel TV, Interview.
Al Sakaf, S (March 3, 1998) SBS Radio
Blows, M. (May 5, 1998) Ibtihal Samarayi and Islamic Art Work Transnationals Network for the Study of Physical, Psychological & Spiritual Wellbeing