Tears of Gold: Portraits of Yazidi, Rohingya, and Nigerian Women (Hardback)
  • Tears of Gold: Portraits of Yazidi, Rohingya, and Nigerian Women (Hardback)

Tears of Gold: Portraits of Yazidi, Rohingya, and Nigerian Women (Hardback)

(author), (foreword), (author of introduction)
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Hardback 136 Pages
Published: 06/02/2024
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A celebrated young British artist uses her gift to convey the dignity and resilience of women survivors of violence in forgotten corners of the world.

This debut art book by British artist and human rights activist Hannah Rose Thomas presents her stunning portrait paintings of Yazidi women who escaped ISIS captivity, Rohingya women who fled violence in Myanmar, and Nigerian women who survived Boko Haram violence, alongside their own words, stories, and self-portraits. A final chapter features portraits and stories of Afghan, Ukrainian, Uyghur, and Palestinian women. 

These portraits, depicting women from three continents and three religions, are a visual testimony not only of war and injustice but also of humanity and resilience. Many of the women have suffered sexual violence; all have been persecuted and forcibly displaced on account of their faith or ethnicity.

Hannah Rose Thomas met these women in Iraqi Kurdistan, Bangladeshi refugee camps, and Northern Nigeria while organizing art projects to teach women how to paint their self-portraits as a way to reclaim their personhood and self-worth. She gives women their own voice both by creating a safe space for them to share their stories and by using her impressive connections to make sure their stories are heard in places of influence in the Global North. 

Thomas uses techniques of traditional sacred art – early Renaissance tempera and oil painting and gold leaf – to convey the sacred value of each of these women in spite of all that they have suffered. This symbolic restoration of dignity is especially important considering the stigma surrounding sexual violence. Hannah’s work attests to the power of the arts as a vehicle for healing, remembering, inclusion, and dialogue.

Long after the news cameras have moved on to the next conflict, this book shines a spotlight on the ongoing work of healing and restoration in some of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities around the world. 

All publisher profits from this book will be donated to relevant charities.

Publisher: Plough Publishing House
ISBN: 9781636080802
Number of pages: 136
Dimensions: 254 x 203 x 13 mm


One of Hannah’s aims is to capture not only the courage and stoicism of the women who have suffered so much, but also the nobility, dignity, and extraordinary compassion that many of them manage to retain, despite their traumatic experiences. I very much hope that this beautiful book, Tears of Gold, will help enable the Yazidi, Rohingya, and Nigerian women’s voices to be heard, as well as to highlight the issue of the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in general. All too often, their stories of suffering remain unseen and unheard – but Hannah Thomas is doing tremendous work in bringing their stories out into the open. May her powerful paintings spread the word and, God willing, have a positive impact in relieving the suffering of some of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities around the world. —HRH Prince Charles, prior to his accession as HM King Charles III

Hannah Rose Thomas is a remarkable painter and story-teller. Her publication: Tears of Gold is not simply an exposé of her artistic skill, it is much more than that – it is her deposition, her witness statement to the suffering of a fellow being. Containing the portraits of survivors of extreme violence (and sexual and gender-based violence in the case of many) the book centers on their individual stories and, by extension, the horrific atrocities experienced by their communities. … There may well be tears – after all, their pain is immense – but those tears are often unaccompanied by other emotions. There is so much control and a natural humility, the effect is simply startling. It is not what the observer commonly expects – and Hannah captures the authority within each survivor perfectly and beautifully. —Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

As I sobbed my way from one grim life to the other, I felt increasingly certain that this was beautiful art doing beautiful things in a terrible world. Bravo, Hannah Rose Thomas. —Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times

The goal behind the book is to inspire empathy and compassion for these women through the portraits within. Art, because of its contemplative nature, can help foster such values, which Thomas believes are easy to shake loose in modern society. —Religion Unplugged

Hannah's soft-spoken nature belies a bold and compassionate spirit and her mission to give voice to the voiceless through the healing properties of art. [She] has organized art programs in hotspots around the globe, gently teaching and ministering to survivors of horrendous violence and loss. —Erin Rodewald, The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture

British artist Thomas’s stunning debut presents her paintings of two dozen women who have endured persecution and displacement across the globe. Thomas visited compounds and refugee camps to interview her subjects, and renders their stories with a brevity that belies their intensity.…But Thomas’s portraits are the high point: she captures her subjects’ particularities, as well as the sometimes-haunted, sometimes-resolute gaze they share.…Fashioned with uncommon care, this impresses.  –Publishers Weekly, starred review

For Hannah Rose Thomas, art is a means to process trauma, and to give expression to feelings that words and language are too limited to convey: "There is an absence of cultural narratives that allow women to look upon their survival as heroic, courageous, and resilient. We can never underestimate the healing power of listening and bearing witness to another’s story, and I seek to do this through painting. It is a form of hospitality and makes space for their voices to be respected and valued.” –Church Times, UK

An incredible book reflecting a decade’s worth of work by artist and human rights activist Hannah Rose Thomas. …What a powerful collection. —Woman Alive Magazine

"So beautiful and moving." —Sky News TV, UK

Featuring moving and beautiful portraits of female survivors of conflict and sexual violence, Hannah Rose Thomas’ art imparts dignity, resistance and justice to these women. . . . By treating them “as subjects in their own stories rather than as objects in the stories of others”, they become testimony to our shared humanity. —Baroness Lister, The House Magazine, UK

As works of art, the portraits are extraordinarily skillful and beautiful, but they are so much more than that. They offer a glimpse into the soul of women who have experienced the most unspeakable suffering. —Seen and Unseen

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“Brave survors”

survival, survivor's-guilt, survivors, nonfiction, art, triggers, trafficking, tragedy, crimes-against-humanity, violent-crimes, women-victims, photographic-art, memories, multicultural, multiple-murder,... More

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