On a typically wet and dreary day in London, I arrived, umbrella in hand, at the doorstep of Afsoon’s Ladbroke Grove studio, and rang the buzzer. Seconds later, I was greeted by a grinning woman with mid-length jet black hair, a red neckerchief, psychedelic Doc Martens, and a quaint, super-cool jumper which read Ginsberg is God on the front, and somewhat less reverently, Goddard is Dog on the flipside.

Like her outfit, Afsoon’s studio, nay – atelier – is something of magic and wonder. Though bare and somewhat industrial in its appearance, and possessing the unassuming exterior of a residential flat, the place is anything but dull. Aside from her signature colourful collages splayed out on the floor for the consideration of yours truly, I was struck by the myriad oddities and eccentricities that had turned a corner of her studio into some sort of fantastic shrine. Among faded family photographs, I could discern colourful cassette covers from pre-Revolution Iran, a retro Egyptian film poster, various wrappings from India, and icons of Hindu gods. Indeed, there was so much to stare and ogle at on her desk alone, that I found it extremely difficult to focus on what she was saying at times.

That day, Afsoon gave me nothing short of the royal treatment, as she showed me works from an assortment of her collections, explaining the stories and motivations behind each in meticulous detail. For instance, I had always taken her Fairytale Icons series at face value, simply admiring them for their aesthetic beauty, and of course, the popular figures featured within, not recognising a host of details that made the pieces even more interesting. In one collage, a resplendent Queen Fawzieh dominates the foreground, with small cut-outs of the late Shah surrounding her on both sides, giving her wings, as it would seem. As Afsoon pointed out, the reason for this arrangement relates to the personalities of the Shah and Fawzieh. Whereas Fawzieh was a seasoned queen, having a father, brother, and husband who were all kings, the young Shah was a newcomer, and thus played second fiddle to his wife, who was the real ‘star’ of the show, fluttering around her. In another collage featuring the late Iranian Prime Minister, Mossadegh, Afsoon points out rows of sugar containers in the background, noting that ‘Old Mossy’s’ first squabble with the British was over the right to produce sugar locally, rather than have it imported from Britain. It was only later, I learned, that the feud over the nationalisation of the Iranian oil industry ensued.