This video documents George Gittoes’s and Hellen Rose’s travels around Peshawar in the late months of 2021, as they visit to establish the Yellow House in Peshawar: a centre for community engagement with video and moving-image projects. Gittoes and Rose visit the shrine of their friend, Sufi Sayed Baba Gee, and the grave of the poet Rahman Baba. Gittoes also shares the first poem he felt moved to write as a young child.
On his connection to the culture of the region, and his projects there, Gittoes writes:
“During 1965, while in my first year at a new high school, Kingsgrove North, I dared to suggest to the art teacher that we take the option of studying Islamic art. The teacher tried to persuade me against it, saying there were no textbooks, but the other students backed me. I had discovered my love of Islamic design and ceramics the previous year while at Kogarah High, where my art teacher had introduced me to William Morris and the model of his Red House dedicated to beautiful handmade art from furniture to wall paper. It was not long before I discovered the great Sufi Poets like Rumi and Attar [of Nishapur], and this was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the mystical side of Islamic culture.
The puppet theatre room I created at the Kings Cross Yellow House emulated the interior of a mosque, but with influences from Matisse and Jean Arp, and the first puppet shows there were developed from ancient Sufi stories.
I am proud that many students at Kingsgrove North High in 2021 come from Islamic countries, and that the school now acknowledges this long history of back to our 1965 art class. This lifetime of cultural sensitivity to Islam has made it easy to sustain local community support for our Yellow House in Jalalabad and now the new one in Peshawar.”
Editor: Khuram Shehzad
Cinematography: Waqar Alam
Producer: Hellen Rose
Singers: Molana Rizwan Ullah, Muhammad Junaid Ullah