Warburton Lane, CBD, 11am

Earlier this year PM Kevin Rudd’s nephew, artist Van Rudd, was arrested for wearing a Klu Klux Klan outfit while protesting against racism.

Police described his actions as “riotous behaviour”, while Rudd defended his right to freely and creatively express his political views.

It made me think, at the time, about how artistic expression can be use to critique social and political conventions. You might not have agreed with Rudd’s method or agenda, but you couldn’t deny the effectiveness of the imagery in his protest.

I returned to the idea this week when I visited Fatima Jarrari, a well-established creative designer in inner Melbourne.

Fatima recently released her fourth fashion and art collection called ‘Faces of War’, with strong commercial and critical success. The collection creatively explored the relationship between war, the media and our human condition – subjects which Fatima is deeply passionate about.

Elizabeth Street was bustling like a John Brack painting as I stepped into her studio tucked away on Warburton Lane. Inside, I was greeted by warm smells of paint mixed with incense. Fatima was busily assessing photographs and fabrics for her next collection, with every available surface in creative use.

Faces of War

War is wrong irrespective of who does it or why they do it. I didn’t want to be a big spokesperson about it, but I wanted to project, from my emotions, what I see as being unacceptable.

I think Australians are well informed, but we are a comfortable nation. We continue on justifying war so long as it doesn’t touch us and we aren’t seeing it.

Quite often the images we see in newspapers of war are truly one sided; depending on what side we want to portray as the enemy and what side we want to portray as the good guys.

The media wants us to believe that religion or faith is the connection to war. The connection is actually human greed and hypocrisy.

Anyone who has faith will open their door to any human being. Humans are the absolute detriment to other humans, not faith.

What constantly niggles in my mind is we are fighting the ‘enemy’, but we are going into their grounds, killing their women and children – and they’re the enemy? How is a child with a rock, against a man in a tank, a terrorist? There is something wrong with that picture.

The images I chose in the Faces of War collection were toned down so that they weren’t unattainable for the viewer, but they were provocative enough to evoke a conversation in people’s lounge rooms.

Whether it’s a painting or collage or fashion, I merely project my emotions on a particular form be it paper, canvas, a garment, even the scent that I use for my shampoos. It’s all worked intuitively; it’s not calculated by an intellectual thought.

It’s like the wind – you can feel it – but you can’t see it.

I just dare to live my dream

I don’t consider myself an artist but a person who is creative. From a very young age, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to dress women from head to toe and put collections together. I had this sense of intuition and I just started drawing skirts as little girls do.

My first collection was inspired by my mother. I remember when I was six, my mother went to the tailors and the cloth would fall on the table as they made the garments. She didn’t have a lot of clothes, but she had stylish pieces that she wore for years, which stood the test of time. She influenced me in terms of her style.

My very first collection I had 90 people at the showing and the last collection I did, I had 400 people. The more you pursue your truth the more things will open up. I’m not working to be recognised or written about but to express myself.

I’m now working on four collections, and the next will be the Doors collection. The Doors collection is all about possibilities and choices; about where you enter the mystery and intrigue of life. The collection holds a whole interpretation of my observations about what’s going on in the world.

At the same time I formed the Faces of War collection I also formed theEagle’s Nest Foundation. All the proceeds from Faces of War go towards orphans of war-torn countries through the foundation. We are now sponsoring a two-year-old orphan from the Gaza Strip called Sal Sa Biel.

I want people to be aware that orphans are the weakest link in any society. They are the true unfortunate beings from right around the world. When I do depart this world, hopefully I will leave behind something that can be bought forward to help the orphans.

If you would like to contact Fatima Jarrari about her work at Warburton Lane Exhibits or the Eagle’s Nest Foundation, email fatima@warburtonlaneexhibits.com.

The photographs of the models in this post come from Darley Management.