Aurora Trinity Collective: in conversation
Date posted: 20 June 2020
Aurora Trinity in collaboration with Artes Mundi asked Nasima Begum and Ogechi Dimeke from Aurora Trinity Collective to reflect on what being part of an open art collective has meant for them.
Nasima: What have you discovered about yourself since joining Aurora?
Ogechi: Previously, maybe because of my experience prior to coming to Cardiff I lacked confidence and I have felt not good enough like, I worry about expressing my ideas or opinions. Coming to Aurora has made me realise that I have ideas that are worth listening to. I’m not made to feel small or insignificant and it has brought that back into my life like, I’ve got a voice and I can use it, and I’m allowed to use it.
Nasima: I always knew that you don’t have to be a perfectionist, just before going to Aurora I was always battling with myself and thinking I need to change myself, I need to be more perfect. I think I’ve rediscovered myself, that’s what I would say. I was at a time before joining Aurora I was at a time where I was trying to be someone else, and I’ve rediscovered that I can I can appreciate someone’s work now, I can appreciate your work and I don’t have to feel like I have to be like you. People have told us that it is a big deal when you make small mistakes
Ogechi: Yeah it is a big deal
Nasima: And sometimes we know they’re small mistakes and it’s really that discovery again and I feel like I can be myself again, you know?
Nasima: I can laugh off my mistakes, I can laugh off the wrong stitch.
Ogechi: Really Aurora has been a beautiful experience for us, giving us the opportunity to rediscover ourselves and to express ourselves in our own unique way. That’s the beauty of art, it’s an expression of who we are and it’s been beautiful to discover and rediscover that.
Ogechi: How did you come to know about Aurora?
Nasima: Ok, so I used to go to go to, you probably know Meryl? She runs the play group doesn’t she for the refugees and asylum seekers but everyone’s welcome to come. Although I’m not a refugee or asylum seeker everyone is welcome to that group. She told me about a session that happens every Friday, and I was like, Oh, OK. An art session. And I was really interested and I thought, this is me, this is what I should be going to, you know? I really like art and so I turned up the next day, OK I can’t stay but I just want to know what it is so I’ll stay for five minutes. I remember seeing Helen and Marianne at the door and Helen was saying ‘make sure you come to ours, ours is really good.’ And I was like, ‘OK then, we’ll see, I’ll have to see you next week, I would love to stay.’ The following week I turned up and I took my mother in law with me, and I told Helen and Marianne how I really like art and how I want to bring it back into my life and she got me to do some screen printing, straight away on the first lesson and it was nice. So that’s how I came to know about Aurora, and I feel like it’s something like fate that brought me there, like I went to Meryl’s group which wasn’t really initially for me but I went there and then straight away found out about Helen’s sessions which I had no idea about.
Ogechi: I got to know about Aurora through Meryl’s group as well, because I was an asylum seeker and I attended the group with my son. At the time he hadn’t started nursery so we used to attend the group. And Meryl was like, ‘Oh there’s a group on Friday, a ladies group’ and the attraction was ‘oh they do sewing and art,’ I was like ‘oh sewing, OK, I like sewing.’ Because where I come from, I come from Nigeria originally and our clothes are usually custom made, our traditional attire. And I was a bit, art – I did like art but because I grew up in a culture where, like ‘artists, like, are you serious? You want to be an artist? Like seriously? Your mates are being doctors and you’re being an artist?’ You know, it was just on the side like, really really at the backbone of my life really. But, and then I found out about Aurora, because I had a lot of time on my hands waiting for the Home Office so it was just like, spare time to fill up. It was quite interesting because I hadn’t done some of those things before they were things that interested me. The environment was so warm and very receptive and everyone was friendly and it was really nice and I just felt like, ‘oh ok, you know I will spend time here and you know, learn new things. I’d always been good with needle work and all of that and it was good to refresh and sit with other ladies and not just be an asylum seeker or someone’s mummy, so it was really nice.
Nasima: How would you say your involvement has changed since joining Aurora?
Ogechi: I think I’ve, personally I’ve moved from just being an attendee I think, to being a part of the decision process. I think I have that, I’ve been able to get that growth in the group by Helen trying to pull us out from, you know, our shells. You know, she get us involved like, “oh you could do this.” I remember there was a day Helen couldn’t make it to the group and Marianne wasn’t around, she said, “Oh, I will come in and I will go, but I will come back later. I don’t know if you could, just be in the group and handle the group for that?” I was like, “Oh my God! I’m going to ruin the group!” I was like, “Ok, I will do it, what do I do?” It was still that relaxed friendly atmosphere, we were all still relaxed, still talking and did a few things we needed to do which was still beautiful. So, it has really moved for me, from just attending, to saying I could do more, I could be more in this group and it’s really a nice was to have progressed so far. And how about you? How has it been for you?
Nasima: In the beginning it was, OK let me see what I could learn today. Let me see what stitch they’re doing, if they’re going to do a new stitch, you know? I think it was a lot about learning first, learning new things and, if I look at myself now I would say there’s more in taking an active role, I think. We had Jane come along from Craft in the Bay and she spent a long time teaching us. Just before she left, we were saying, “Ok, so whose going to teach everyone how to use the spinning wheel? And she goes, “You are!” and I was like “Oh, OK – Me?” She was like, “you’ve been doing it for all these weeks, you can do it.” And I think it’s taking that active role in that because Helen’s been trying to say that to me from the beginning, from day one. She’s been trying to say, “you can do this, you can do that – and you can run things as well.” In the past I would say I was more interested in learning something, and now I’m kind of, more interested in making other people feel comfortable. We have people come and they keep saying, “My English is not good” and there’s a few who speak Arabic and because I learn Arabic – trying to do a bit of English and a bit of Arabic, somehow you manage to explain things, but I feel like my involvement has changed in that way. I’m trying to be more welcoming and trying to make people feel like, actually you know what? You could do this, you know? You could do this as well, you could teach someone as well, just like Helen did to me, you know? Because sometimes we don’t see our strengths and it’s like, when you have someone else telling you that you could do this it really helps, so I would like to do that for someone else, just like Helen did for me. We all started as users who wanted to learn, but now we could be sharing the knowledge that we have.