Faten, a Syrian woman displaced from her home in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, collects old mortar shells and bullets, and transforms them into beautiful works of art.
East Ghouta gained an infamous reputation during the Syrian Civil Conflict as an area harbouring Islamic extremists but also one that was subject to a brutal onslaught by the Syrian regime, which according to several reports involved the use of chemical weapons. The art created by Faten from East Ghouta is a testament to the resilience of women who have endured and witnessed large-scale violence and yet can risen from the depths of the war to revive and bring light to communities in Syria.
Faten explained how she fled East Ghouta to the north of Syria, where she is currently settled, and how she has come to involve herself in the world of art:
“We fled Ghouta because of the bombings from the aircraft and we came to the north [of Syria]. I live with my brothers and their children. Since childhood, I loved painting and art in general. I studied at school until ninth grade, then I learned hairstyling and worked as a coiffure. After that, I started drawing on glass and mirrors until we came here. I went into a house and found shells so I brought them and I started to paint and decorate them. I have turned the shells into lamps and lanterns. This is at the same time a strange but sweet idea and adds special beauty to the house.”
East Ghouta was a fierce battleground between Syrian rebel groups and the regime. The area lies just to the east of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Its proximity to the Syrian government in the capital made it a vital strategic location, especially since it was home to well-known extremist groups. The ensuing battles in East Ghouta resulted in large-scale massacres. Thousands of civilians from the area were displaced or relocated to the north of the country, like Faten.