July 14, 2023

Maha’s Diary – Somali Arts Café Creative Women

Maha’s Diary – Somali Arts Café Creative Women


Maha is our new Heritage Participation trainee and is keeping an illustrated heritage blog of her time.


Greetings Oxford House friends,


My name is Maha Shami. I am an Artist and the Heritage Participation Trainee at Oxford House. My Oxford House Diary uses reportage illustration. Reportage is a type of visual documentation where an artist’s captures a moment in time. This is where I draw from life to document what is happening around me at Oxford House. Using a visual diary allows me to express my thoughts and emotions. I write to do lists and make sure I keep track of what needs to be done at work. I have a passion for storytelling, and I want to share that with you.


Today’s post is about the Somali Arts Café: Creative Women. This event was presented in partnership by Oxford House and Kayd Somali Arts and Culture. This event has been made possible with the support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.


This night was fantastic! Noura A Sheikh was a brilliant vibrant host who kept the audience engaged and the energy up. She is passionate about empowering women and grassroots community organisations for Black Muslims in the UK. The creative industries panel included Hannah Abdule, the founder of Side eYe Productions a British Somali women’s theatre group, Hafza Yusuf, a textile designer, educator, and entrepreneur whose designs showcase the rich heritage of Somali design and culture and Khadra Ibrahim, who is an actress and presenter who advocates for single mothers and leads creative and community work. The panel shared fascinating insights about their work and the steps they took to be doing the work they are doing now.


We also had an inspiring poetry section. Neimo Askar is the founder of Poetry and Shaah, and explores the intersection of faith, disability and belonging. Fantastic emerging poet and spoken word artist Amal Yusuf also shared her work. Her work explores themes of religion, culture, mental health and raising important issues in her community. The night culminated in a traditional dance trio Canab Cuud. They specialised in the traditional Somali Dance Buraambur – a female led dance and poetry performance. They encouraged the audience to join in and it was fantastic! The energy of the theatre was electric. I was filled with inspiration at the level of artistry and performances.

All drawings were made with Polychromos Faber Castell Pencils.