The Oracle of the Stateless
(Portrait of Saba Vasefi)

2022, oil on linen, 160 x 80 cm

This is a portrait of Saba Vasefi; poet, writer and filmmaker. Seeking political refuge from Iran, Saba arrived in Australia eleven years ago with her daughter. Saba is a woman of immaculate words. This portrait reimagines Saba as the Oracle of Delphi – a powerful woman from antiquity - but this oracle is different; her eyes are open as her knowledge comes from the world and a position of being ‘in between’ places. Saba holds her grandmother’s candleholder - one of the few items Saba could bring with her to Australia, and a bouquet of gum leaves – symbolic of her new home. Symbolic of new possibilities, Saba is wearing a dress gifted to her by the late Carla Zampatti, a long-time advocate for women who have migrated to Australia.