Last week I went to Bita Ghezelayagh?s first solo exhibition in London. It featured a collection of felt capes. She treats her felt capes as canvasses on which she expresses her memories of growing up in Iran. She was brought up in Tehran where she lived through the Iranian revolution of 1979 and Iran-Iraq war (1980-88). She is heavily influenced by post-revolutionary visual popular culture.
A thousand and one metal keys, crowns, tulips and images of a renowned Iran-Iraq war hero printed onto metal tags are sewn onto the garments. She combines these with Iranian slogans ? such as "Martyrdom is the Key to Paradise".
Bita Ghezelayagh says: "making my first designs, and travelling around Iran searching for the best techniques, I came across a display of felt shepherds? capes in a provincial bazaar. They hung inertly, heavily, a reminder of earthy tradition amid the gaudy consumer goods, and were a poignant validation of Joseph Beuys? elevation of felt into art."