Tabarak Mansour – Cool Roofs and Clay

"As for the wonderful memory of seeing the sea for the first time, what a breathtaking view it was!"

Tabarak Mansour – Cool Roofs and Clay
Tabarak Mansour

Independent Iraqi visual artist Tabarak Mansour (Instagram) spent her summers escaping from the fierce heat on her roof and used mud from her garden to create sculptures.

I feel nostalgic for the past, even though I didn’t have a typical childhood. However, there are many wonderful memories that take me years back. In the summer, Iraqis used to sleep on the rooftop of their houses because it was a hot, dry country.

I remember our large rooftop, we would spray water to cool it down a bit as the sun set. We would prepare summer fruits and exchange stories with our neighbours on a daily basis. We would bring a radio and everything we needed. It felt like an amazing camping trip to me.

My father used to bring us a telescope to observe the nearby planets, and before sleep, he would share his memories of war, when he was a soldier. The conversations were fascinating and emotionally moving. My mother used to tell me many imaginary tales, and the best part was that I would listen to them while gazing at the stars and the clear sky. We abandoned this tradition as Iraqis during and after the war due to pollution, noise from power generators, and the fear of random gunfire.


I must be honest and say that I wasn’t a typical student. I didn’t like school, and I eagerly awaited the last day of the school year to finally return home. It meant that I could draw and sculpt whenever I wanted in the clay. One day, I ran out of clay, and it was difficult for my father to go to the tool store because the war was still ongoing, and everything became hard to access. So, I told myself to find a solution! I went to the soil in the backyard, and fortunately, it was clay-ey soil. I dug up the garden and accidentally damaged my mother’s okra tree. She was very upset and didn’t know who did it. Perhaps a rabbit or a dog entered the garden. Soon enough, she discovered it herself when she found my small sculptures.

Today, I try to do what’s possible and to not let anything stand in my way. I no longer wait for the right conditions…


As for the wonderful memory of seeing the sea for the first time, what a breathtaking view it was! Maybe it happened recently, and perhaps my family didn’t take me for a summer vacation by the sea when I was young. But all of this has made me appreciate the beauty of nature. I’m grateful for every opportunity to be embraced by nature. All these experiences have taught me to be brave today and to keep trying. In truth, I am a very patient person. My fears fuel my work, and I feel that I have a story to tell in the future.

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