Maryam Hashemi: What’s on your mantelpiece?

A 20-question interview with artist Maryam Hashemi


The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?

My subconscious and intuition.


“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?

“Everything may or may not be true” – It’s actually my boyfriend’s but I love to use it a lot. I also love: “This is only a game, play it nicely”.


Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2016?

“Intolerance” – I’m not very good at pointing a finger at anyone, but the intolerant people are easy to spot: They shout a lot usually.


Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?

The days that the health and safety policies hadn’t ruined the fun in everything and one could experience a healthy level of danger in the surrounding with less ugly signage everywhere. Oh… And don’t get me started about censorship.


What might you swap all your wealth for?

Fainting goats… Lots of them.


Donald Trump was once a case of: “If you owe the bank a thousand, they close you down; but if you owe the bank a billion, you own the bank”. What’s your view on the banking crisis?

Those guys played dirty and I do my best to stay away from their games as much as is possible.


What phrase or word do you most loathe?

“What is your ethnic background” – On forms they never have the right box for me so I always end up ticking the “other”.


In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?

Where I come from, it is believed that giving to the poor will keep you safe from many deadly disasters. I love contributing to crowdfunded projects that are generally art related and also environmental and humanitarian causes whenever I can afford to.


The judge in Law Abiding Citizen states: “I can pretty much do whatever I want” before being blown up whilst answering her mobile phone. What’s your view on the appropriate use of such devices?

Mine is seriously old due to my clumsiness and laziness and also because of my lack of interest in the social status that goes with phones these days. I only use mine for phone calls and texting – which I think is pretty appropriate – but phones are trying very hard to become part of our bodies and I think that’s a bit inappropriate.


Maryam Hashemi


If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?

My partner (the ‘Lord of Dance’), our twins (they only exist in my imagination at the moment), my mannequin from the toilet (Goddess of the Toilet), our dog and a cat ( haven’t got any pets yet but we will get some one day) and my grandfather (he is only with us in the spirit form). This will fill if it’s a private compartment but if we are going for the whole 20-26 seater then my family, my ‘Purple Wizard’ friend Maria, Florencia (the ‘Dancing Soothing Breeze’), Ivan ‘The Devine’, Zoya (the first ever honorary Iranian), Liz (the ‘Guardian of All’), Simon Tyszko (an artist with an incredible and crazy mind), ‘The Girl in the Balloon’, the none-existent Robert Holcombe, members of the Dionisian Underground (dead or alive) and Matthew Steeples, of course. If there were more room and some people cancelled then I’d add Alejandro Jodorophsky, John McVicar and Felix Barrett.


If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?

If I had an appetite at that point I would probably have cheese on toast. I find it the most comforting food. It would need to be served on really nice wholemeal bread with extra mature cheddar and also some goat’s feta cheese. I might have some tea with it then coffee and cream but it needs to be really freshly roasted. I would have it on a roof top ideally with a good view but a view of the sky would do.


What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?

I don’t drink but when I did, anytime was acceptable.


A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?

Tea of course and a pot please. Herbal is my preferred choice.


Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?

To be honest, our own parties or any party that I could be part of. I find it difficult to enjoy myself at a party so working at one is the most fun.


Who is the most positive person you know?

Alan Watts.


What’s your most guilty pleasure?

Watching YouTube videos obsessively. These days I generally like ones about aliens and alchemy.


If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?

A symbol of some kind – I’m not sure what, but it would have a purpose: Perhaps an inter-dimensional dialling device.


If you were a car, what marque would you be?

A classic Jaguar.


Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.

My name is a lie and I talk to the dead.


What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?

A series of glass candle holders, a glass tea set, medieval looking wine glasses,a 3D picture of an owl, some bolts and screws, bits from a fire place and opened wine bottle which should really be binned.Basically it’s a messy storage place at the moment while we are refitting our boat.


Maryam Hashemi is an Iranian-British artist based in Hackney Wick, London. Her work is rooted in Iran and inspired by her colourful life on a vintage Dutch barge.



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    1. I never sure of these descriptions. Either you are British or you are Iranian: you cannot be both.
      And wasn’t John McVicar a very dangerous criminal psychopath? Why on earth would you want to invite someone like that to dinner?

    2. Dear Peter , have you heard of dual nationality ever? John McVicar was indeed a dangerous criminal and did his time for it ,later he became a writer, journalist and editor which I had the privilege of knowing for a short while while doing an intership in their publishing . So yes I would have him around but have a feeling that he won’t be up for it.

    3. Well, I don’t think he is a terrible life enhancing so would not wish to have him around.
      Dual nationalities are one thing but my opinion, as an Englishman, is that if should make up one’s mind as to who you are. I hope you don’t support the vicious and medieval regime that has so ruined your country of ethnic origin.

    4. Don’t worry peter you are not invited to my imaginary carriage so you are absolutely safe,regarding being Iranian there is so much to it than just the current system , I am not going to start a political debate here as I find them pointless but if I were an Englishman I would study my own recent history specially when it involves middle Eastern countries .I am more than one thing and not limited to one culture , I’m rooted in Iranian culture and being in the UK has helped me grow ,who knows where my branches are going to reach.


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