Tag Archives: London

Omani Women – Islington Gazette article

8th March, 2016

Artist shows true colours of Oman

Portraits aim to overturn misconceptions

A Highbury artist is attempting to shed light on a little-known corner of the world with her unique portraits of Omani Women. Helen Couchman said the idea came to her after travelling to Oman for work four years ago. “I wanted to understand more about what we mean when we refer to the Middle East,” she said. “Its just so general and vague.”

It was while she was on assignment in the desert that she was first inspired; ” I was at the edge of what is known as The Empty Quarter when I met three women who appeared over the dunes in the middle of nowhere. The women – including a mother and her three daughters – took a shine to her and invited her to their farm. “I was struck by how brightly and confidently dresses the four women were,” Ms Couchman told the Gazette. “I began thinking about my expectations of them being more conservatively dressed.”

When she returned to the UK she searched through archives of Omani Women but found only portraits that were anthropological or of eroticised Persian beauty. Inspired by her own experiences she returned to the country to start her own project. Of course convincing strangers to pose for photos wasn’t easy. “I realised it might be quite a difficult question for people to consider so I approached people in the street rather than at their homes which I don’t think would have been very polite,” Ms Couchman said. Most families had at least on member who spoke English or else would invite a friend over who could. “I would ask them three questions,” she said. “Would they like to be in the portrait? What would they like to wear? And how would they like to present themselves?”

The result is a series of  image published in her new book Omani Women. She will be giving a talk and signing at Waterstones at Islington Green on 9th March at 6pm. 

by Sophie Inge, 3 March 2016


Online, 8 March 2016:

Omani Women - 8th March 2016. Islington Gazette website home page

Islington Gazette online article - 8 March 2016

Amnesty International Art Auction in London

29th January, 2015

An etching from Cloud series, yellow lining will be auctioned at Amnesty International UK, London on 19th February in aid of Art Refuge.

6pm Drinks Reception and Viewing. 7.30pm Auction
Turner prize winner Jeremy Deller’s work will be up auction amongst others.

Art Refuge helps displaced young people in Nepal deal with the trauma of seeking asylum though art therapy. Often separated from their families and having to travel by foot over the Himalayas, these kids really benefit from the chance to express themselves through painting and drawing. All proceeds will go to getting two UK-based art therapists set up in Kathmandu, and keeping our tremendous projects going for the next year.

All welcome

Interview with Jian Ghomeshi for CBC’s Q: Arts and Culture

3rd July, 2008

Helen Couchman interviewed about the book, WORKERS 工人, for the CBC by Jian Ghomeshi on his daily culture show Q: Arts and Culture. It was recorded live in Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s London studio as Jian was visiting for a week to broadcast from the UK to celebrate Canada Day.

The interviewed is approx 35 minutes into the 1 hour show. First on is Sebastian Faulks talking about writing the thirty-sixth James Bond story, Devil May Care.

Listen to the radio programe here: (>>35:00) http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/qpodcast_20080630_6503.mp3