Updated: Jul 19
He may be only 25, but Nabil has already lived 3 different lives.
Born in Kapisa, a province in North-East Afghanistan, Nabil is one of 3 children. In a rural area, his father was a farmer and his mother looked after the children. Then, in 2000, his family was forced to flee Afghanistan when Taliban rule made their life impossible. He was just 3 years old.
There followed several years as a refugee in Iran, a country that has taken in migrants from Afghanistan for many years. He did well at school and dreamt of being a Biologist, but his refugee status meant he was not allowed to study this subject.
About 14 years ago, his father and 9-year-old brother left Iran, leaving Nabil, his mother and sister behind. Making their way, on foot, across Europe, they finally reached the UK, and waited for the rest of the family to join them.
Nabil, his mother and sister, back in Iran, then began the long struggle to get UK visas. Finally, in 2015, their visas came through, and they were able to join his father and brother in Bristol.
In Bristol, Nabil connected with the refugee network, and started painting.
Taking inspiration from both pictures and reality, Nabil is using his art to raise awareness of climate change and the plight of refugees.
“I catch pictures from all around and bring them together in my art—from my imagination. I want to tell people about the effect climate change is having in Afghanistan and Iran—drought, pollution, sewage in rivers.”
Nabil has exhibited through the Bristol Refugee Artists’ Collective, selling some of his paintings, and created murals at Borderlands and Easton Community Centre, where he volunteers, helping other refugees.
He creates pictures using a variety of materials, each with its own symbolism. Wire represents technology—in one image the earth is depicted inside a cage of wire to show how technology has taken over our lives. In another, a dove is held by many hands of different colours to show how people of different races can come together in peace. Landscapes depict the changes wrought by climate change.
And his ambition “To help any humans that need it, and to make people happy”. Through his art, he has already started.
Nabil is a member of BHN's advisory board.