Iran: Art and punishment – artist and former prisoner tells her story


Soudabeh Ardavan was held for eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. She found sanity and solace through the forbidden activities of drawing and painting, secretly producing paint from flower petals and tea, using brushes made from toothpicks and human hair. Whenever she was caught, she received severe penalties that ranged from forced isolation to brutal beatings. At great risk to themselves, Ardavan’s female inmates helped her smuggle her artwork out of the prison.

“During visits all physical contact was forbidden, but we were allowed to hug babies so we slipped the pictures inside the baby blankets and clothing,” the artist says. She is now a longtime resident of Sweden.
Read Soudabeh Ardavan’s story on



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