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 The Team 

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Rashad Salim - Project Director

Rashad is an artist whose 40-year career spans diverse forms of creative practice, including printmaking, sculpture, painting, illustration, curation, cultural research, grassroots development and project animation.


His fascination with the history of culture and technology has driven decades of study and experiential research in the field. Our work builds on Rashad’s experience in reconstructing ancient boats and taking part in expeditions:

  • The Tigris Expedition led by Thor Heyerdahl in 1977-78, as a member of the construction team and crew, following ancient Sumerian trade routes from the marshes of Iraq through the Arabian Gulf and across the Indian Ocean;

  • The Tigris Flotilla with Nature Iraq in 2013, building a group of traditional boats and travelling down the Tigris from southern Turkey to the marshes of Iraq, raising awareness of river conservation and cultural heritage;

  • A series of six field trips to Iraq in 2016, as the first stage of our major project The Ark Re-imagined, searching out the remnants of ancient boat-building and craft traditions, and engaging with some of today’s makers.


Rashad also brings a unique perspective as a surviving member of the renowned Salim family of artists, whose work was pivotal to the development of Iraqi culture in the 20th century.

These experiences, together with wide-ranging reading, encounters with remarkable individuals, and first-hand immersion in many aspects of intangible heritage, inspired Rashad’s desire to weave his knowledge of ancient cultures into the practice of contemporary art and design: an ambition he is now working to realise through Safina Projects.

Hannah Lewis - Programme Manager


Hannah is an experienced project manager whose previous fields of work include design, event production, higher education and community activism, informing a co-operative approach to project development, with an ability to bring structure and flexible planning to complex processes.


Her work is informed by studies in design methods and ecology (BA Eco Design, 2004), and narrative practice (MA Narrative Environments, 2007), together with practical experience implementing pioneering projects – from curating a British Council exhibition on design and climate change seen by 250,000 people across China, to developing the UK’s first urban local currency the Brixton Pound, and founding the Remakery, an experimental workshop for reuse and upcycling, turning the waste that abounds in urban environments into raw materials for creative enterprise.


Her belief in the importance of making by hand as a mode of learning and expression, together with her curiosity about how human culture has evolved in relation to its environment, motivate her work as co-founder of Safina Projects.

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 Advisory Board 

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Ahmed Naji

Ahmed Naji is an independent researcher and cultural consultant specialising in modern and contemporary Iraqi art. Naji focuses on research and documentation of public art, museum and private collections, and related literature from articles to catalogues and books.


Between 2005 and 2008 Naji worked at the Iraq Memory Foundation in Baghdad on various aspects of documentation and research of documents, oral history of victims and survivors and arts and artefacts under the rule of the Ba’th regime from 1968 to 2003. He was also a cultural advisor for the Public Affairs Office at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Later, Naji served as the founding Executive Officer of the London-based cultural centre of the Humanitarian Dialogue Foundation in 2009 to 2012. He collaborated with several charitable and cultural projects, and his work has been featured in several news articles such as BBC News, LA Times and The Art Newspaper.


He is the author of Under the Palm Trees: Modern Iraqi Art with Mohamed Makiya and Jewad Selim (Rizzoli New York) which discusses the trajectory of Iraqi art through the prominent art collection of the late pioneer architect Mohamed Makiya (1914-2015).

Dr Caroline Sandes


Dr Caroline Sandes is an independent archaeological researcher with over twenty-five years experience. Her PhD is from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London and her research specialises in cultural heritage in (post-) conflict situations in the Middle East, most recently Iraq. She has done fieldwork in Ireland, UK, Australia, Germany and Lebanon, and both supervises MSc students and is a guest lecturer for the UCL Institute of Sustainable Heritage MSc course, lecturing in Cultural Heritage in War Zones. Her publications include a book, Archaeology, Conservation and the City: post-war redevelopment in London, Berlin and Beirut (2010), and numerous academic papers.


Caroline has worked variously on excavations, as an artefact specialist, on architectural heritage and for a number of major archaeological research projects including the Discovery Programme and Knowth Excavations (part of the Bend in the Boyne World Heritage Site) Ireland. Furthermore, she has been a site manager for English Heritage and worked for a number of charitable organisations involved with heritage and community. In addition to her own research, she is also the Office Manager for ICOMOS-UK and a founding member of the ICOMOS-UK Committee for Risk Preparedness (ICORP-UK).

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