The Nightingales of Afghanistan

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On 19th April  The Bristol Ensemble conducted by John Pickard will be performing 'The Nightingales of Afghanistan' for left hand piano composed by Sadie Harrison.  'Silent Scream' was one of the inspirations for 'The Nightingales of Afghanistan' influenced by the paintings of Shajia an Afghan artist who paints in secret, hiding from the Taliban who have banded music and art and are enforcing gender apartheid. An article about Shajia written by BBC Journalist Mahjooba Nowrouzi was translated in to a few different languages across the BBC and also used it on their social media BBC 100 list of inspiring and influential women from around the world.

Shajia's was part of a blossoming of artistic expression in Afghanistan over two decades, that was shut down overnight after the Taliban took power in August 2021. "When there is censorship and lack of tolerance, an artist's imagination dies, and this is a disaster for me and other fellow female artists," (Shajia)

Afghan women are now banned from education and from most jobs, and can only leave the house with a male chaperone. Shajia stills lives in Afghanistan so we are keeping her location secret for her safety. She describes the experience of Afghan women under the Taliban government as a "living hell" but believes they will never succeed in stopping female artists from documenting women's resistance: "I'll carry on fighting for true freedom through my paintings."

In March 2024 Sadie met in Belfast for the first time the Afghan artist she helped get out of Afghanistan, Alina Gawhary (pictured below). Film documentary in post production. One of the compositions is inspired by Alina.

Shared Future News article

The suite of music will be performed by the orchestra at Bristol University.19th April

The Art Journey: Kabul - Belfast - Bristol

Beyond Skin's founder Darren with the help of Sadie and an international network of people has been getting paintings, mostly by Afghan girls and women, out of Afghanistan to the safe harbour of Belfast. The paintings are then sold locally and internationally on behalf of the artists.

Belfast was awarded UNESCO City of Music status two months after the Taliban banned music in Afghanistan. There are layers of significance aligning Afghan art and music and with the resurgence of vinyl, art & music marriage is returning as it was with albums before online streaming, Sadie already has enabled the first commission of a painting on by a record label. Other labels are in conversation with Beyond Skin and other people helping in the network.

Please email for portfolios of paintings for sale. Sadie Harrision CDs are also for sale with profits supporting Afghan women artists.

Sadie and Darren are members of International Campaign for Afghanistan's Musicians