During COVID, I looked for public green spaces across Bahrain for fine art portraits in open spaces. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find a large ‘garden’ or green space that was ‘public.’ Everywhere I went, I was told spaces were privately owned or photography wasn’t permitted. I had gotten completely disheartened and on the verge of giving up when I got a call to document a compound, I had grown up visiting in my 20s and had really good memories of friends’ poolside BBQs.
I forgot how beautiful and lush it was – walking through green arches with sunlight filtering through leaves, open areas with towering palm trees, walkways lined with fruit trees (pomegranate, fig, mulberry, Bahraini loz)… That day I offered to continually document the place as it changed with the seasons and didn’t realize what a labour of love it would turn out to be as it brought me solace and allowed me to slow down. Many times, we can take natural found beauty for granted but I appreciate it especially given how hard it can be to access.
Its date season and dates are very much an integral part of our rich Arabian heritage, a staple food and base to many sweet dishes. These photographs bear witness to process in date season where dates are collected, dried, and cleaned before being put in a traditional date syrup collecting system, as part of a larger body of work called ‘My secret garden’.