Art of Fish Lane: I Am My Own Guardian

If the latest mural in Fish Lane seems familiar, that’s because its artist has previously gone viral for powerful art that speaks to Saudi Arabia’s feminist movement and human rights struggles.

‘I Am My Own Guardian’ is a collaboration between ten different illustrators, including famous political activist and artist Saffaa.

Saffaa told us that the inspiration behind the mural is “to highlight the struggles of imprisoned and tortured Saudi activists” and “pay tribute to the ongoing struggles of Indigenous communities” by championing the faces of formidable women in her art.

Some of the important faces in the mural include Arrernte woman Celeste Liddle (an indigenous rights spokesperson currently residing in Melbourne) and Palestinian-American poet Suhair Hamad.

Also of significance is the portrait of Syrian-American mother and daughter activists Orouba and Halla Barakat, who were murdered after seeking to reveal human rights abuses under the Assad regime.

“On top of all the portraits on the wall I also use words of poets and appropriated graffiti slogans and native flowers and plants,” Saffaa said.

Speaking further on the labour that went into creating the mural, Saffaa told Fish Lane, “I had [collaborating artists] do illustrations for me and I then enlarged and screen-printed them onto paper. I then pasted this paper on the wall with wall paper glue.”

Saffaa’s mural in Fish Lane has a sister work of the same name, which went viral in 2016 when a group of Saudi women decided to use the art alongside the hashtag #iammyownguardian to advocate for human rights and an end to male guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on how she came to collaborate with Fish Lane, Saffaa said, “I was invited to speak at the Integrity20 conference and I asked the organizers if they could find a wall for me and they did.”

“This has been one of the best experiences I have had creating a mural.”

The official launch of the mural will be also be announced shortly; be sure to keep up with our social media to find out when!