My name is Ali Mohammed Faqirzada. I was born in Kabul in 1970 into a large family, including three deaf sisters. My education has not been extensive, as there were no schools for the deaf in Kabul.
When I was thirteen my father was impressed by my drawings and he tried to find an art course for me to attend. He was concerned that I might not be allowed to enter the course because of my deafness but after demonstrating my skills I was accepted into a three year course at the Ghulam M. Maimanagee Fine Art School, where I was taught sculpture and pencil drawing. While studying in my own time I taught myself oil, water, pastel colour and miniatures.
In 1992 the Afghan Government was taken over by the Taliban who wanted to destroy Afghan culture. The Taliban jailed so many people, including artists, painters in particular. My sister wrote to me saying she was under a lot of stress, she wasn’t allowed to go out because she was a woman, all the windows had to be kept shut and painted black so you couldn’t see out.
From 1996 to 2001 I was approved annual visas to India which allowed me to escape the troubles in Afghanistan. Unable to work I devoted most of my time to art. For five years I tried to migrate to Australia and finally arrived in Australia as a refugee in 2001.
I have embraced Australia and the opportunity of a new life and have focused on developing my English and Auslan (Australian Sign Language) skills. I was very excited to find out that in Australia TAFE has support services for people with hearing impairments. I enrolled in the Diploma in Fine Arts at Meadowbank TAFE and learnt new skills, photography and print making. In the future I would like to teach art in schools, particularly in a school for the deaf.
My father always told me that it is the connection between your eyes and your mind that is important for me to express my talent. The fact that I can’t hear is irrelevant.
Ali Mohammed Faqirzada